St. Joseph Medical Center discontinued the urgent-care program at its downtown Reading campus on Dec. 30.
At the same time, the hospital, which is based in Bern Township, extended hours and added staff at its http://maps.google.com/maps/place?hl=en&pwst=1&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox&rlz=1I7GGIE_en&wrapid=tlif129659257296810&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=st.+joseph+family+practice+clinics+reading&fb=1&gl=us&hq=st.+joseph+family+practice+clinics+reading&hnear=Reading,+PA&cid=10521308696640274368&ei=525ITcKKJoH58AbLrLGVBw&sa=X&oi=local_result&ct=placepage-link&resnum=4&ved=0CDQQ4gkwAw"> family-practice clinics at the city campus, Sixth and Walnut streets.
Four years of data showed that most urgent-care patients were using the center for the management of chronic illnesses, which do not respond and cannot be managed long-term with episodic treatment at an urgent-care center.
Also, data showed that some patients also were using the urgent-care center instead of the clinics where they already were patients.
"Our clinical experts here believe that people with chronic illnesses who are treated in a family-practice setting fare much better and have better outcomes over the long term," hospital spokesman Michael Jupina wrote in an e-mail.
"Why? Because we know them; we have treated them in the past, we know their health history, their family history and we see and monitor them on a regular basis. Family practice care is the right care for these types of patients."
Seeing patients with chronic illnesses in the family-practice system improves record keeping and lets patients see essentially the same nurses and doctors on a regular basis.
The urgent-care center had the capacity to see 28 patients a day.
With the expansion of staff and hours, and with a no-show rate nearing 30 percent, the clinics have enough capacity to meet that demand.
St. Joseph opened http://www.bctv.org/special_reports/health/article_474783f0-c722-11df-bd4e-001cc4c002e0.html"> an urgent-care center in Blandon on Sept. 20.