It is the peak of flu season currently, and so Dr. Jasminder Luthra has been a bit busy lately.
Luthra is the owner of New City’s Walk-In Medical Urgent Care, located in the Clarkstown Plaza at 236 South Main Street.
“Typically we see about 40 people on average a day for all kinds of things like coughs, sprains, stitches, things like that,” Luthra said. “But around this time of year we can see more than 50 people a day and on busy days it can be between 60 and 70. There’s a lot of people with the flu who come in for colds and sinus issues this time of year.”
Luthra said so far this year seems like a bad flu season, with many patients who got the flu shot still testing positive for the flu, which he said isn’t necessarily uncommon.
“This year we’re seeing a whole lot of that,” he said. “I don’t want to discourage patients from getting the flu shot. It definitely helps in the long run, but you might experience flu-like symptoms on top of that. Also, just use the usual precautions: wash your hands, stay away from people who are coughing and sniffing.”
Luthra owns the urgent care center and operates it with his wife, Vera, who helps out on the administrative side. It’s one of eight urgent care centers they own and operate in the state. The couple, who live in Westchester in Irvington, opened their first center in 2004 in Throgs Neck. They also own and run centers in White Plains, the Bronx and Long Island.
“My background is working and running emergency rooms,” Luthra said. “When I was there, there would be people coming in who didn’t need the emergency rooms but didn’t have anywhere else to go. So we opened an urgent care center. Going to the emergency room can cost three or four times more for the insurance and our co-pay is typically much lower as well. Plus, when you go to the emergency room, you could sit there waiting for three or four hours for something simple that’s not going to take that long. We try to get people in and out in an hour. And psychologically, in an emergency room you can sit there while ambulances are coming in and out and people with gun shots are being rushed in. Things are calmer here.”
But it took a few years for Luthra’s urgent care centers to catch on with insurance companies. He said that it took until about 2008 or 2009 for many insurance companies to see the benefit of working with his centers, and now when people call their insurance providers on where they can go, if it’s an appropriate injury for the urgent care center, they will be directed there.
Luthra said they accept all major insurance except Medicaid. He said they also offer special lower rates for those without insurance.
They treat all age groups, including children, however he said he wouldn’t encourage newborns or pregnant women to seek urgent care.
Luthra said has at least one provider there at all times, along with multiple medical assistants. The centers also offer X-rays and have an X-ray technician on hand as well. They provide many vaccines, including those needed for college or international travel. The centers can treat burns, check for STDs and offer physicals, drug screenings and more.
The New City location has been open for about a year and Luthra said that while the start of a new urgent care center can be slow, with maybe 10 or so patients a day, things have picked up and the center is on pace for where it should be.
There are no appointments at the center, which is open seven days a week. It’s open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Luthra added they’re open most holidays, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“A lot of people ask why we aren’t open later,” Luthra said. “But if it’s midnight and you have someone you need to get checked out right then, you should probably go to an emergency room anyway. And if it can wait a few hours, we’ll be open in the morning.”