WV health startup MedExpress boasts rapid growth
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Twelve years ago, urgent care provider MedExpress was just a startup operating a single clinic in Morgantown's Wharf District. Today, the company is made up of 114 locations in nine states.
MedExpress officials attribute this phenomenal growth to the company's strategy of providing what they call "in-between care."
The company was founded by four West Virginia University School of Medicine classmates - Drs. Bryan Stuchell, Christian McCarter, Kevin Blankenship and Frank Alderman - who realized during their residency that the emergency room model of urgent care wasn't working as well as it should.
"We were founded in Morgantown by a group of ER physicians who saw a vision and a need for treating conditions that weren't necessarily best suited for the emergency room but needed to be taken care of," MedExpress area manager Tracy Martin said.
At the time, the four doctors saw a lot of patients who had to sit for hours in an ER waiting room to get a prescription or treatment for more common problems like the flu, sore throats or sinus infections.
These were patients who didn't have time to wait on an appointment with their primary care physician but whose symptoms were not severe enough to warrant immediate attention at the ER.
That's when the four doctors decided to start up a clinic to focus on those types of patients - one that could take walk-ins seven days a week, treat urgent needs and still get patients in and out in less than 45 minutes.
"They had the vision and saw the need for this in-between care," Martin said, "where you can't get to your primary care doctor and you don't want to go to an emergency room."
When Martin joined the company in 2007, it had already opened three additional clinics - one in West Virginia and two in Pennsylvania. Since then, the company has grown rapidly by opening new locations and merging with other urgent care companies in other states.
MedExpress now employs more than 3,000 people at clinics in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, Indiana, New Jersey, Maryland, Tennessee and Florida.
Last month, the company opened its 19th West Virginia location along W.Va. 34 in Hurricane. The company is also planning to open a second location in Huntington and a third in Charleston in the near future.
"The growth is very fast pace," Martin said.
Each clinic starts out with 15 to 20 staff members and physicians. The size of the staff grows as the clinic builds its customer base.
"We always start out with a doctor and then we'll start layering in advanced practitioners," Martin said, "first nurse practitioners and then physicians assistants as needed."
Martin said the company researches an area's existing medical services before deciding to build a new site.
"We look more at how condensed an area is in regards to population and the access to existing medical care," she said.
But she said the company is not trying to replace that existing care, only supplement it. MedExpress doctors like to network with area hospitals and medical practices to give patients referrals for more specialized care.
"We work well with the local physicians and the specialists," Martin said. "We encourage people to have that primary care doctor, we just want to be that fill-in for them for when they have a need."
She said the company also likes to have a good relationship with local area emergency rooms. It's there to help care for lower-risk and more common medical problems so that emergency rooms can devote resources to serious cases that arrive on a moment's notice.
While the company has grown substantially in the last five years, Martin said the rate of growth is likely to continue in the near future.
"There will be more growth in West Virginia and Pennsylvania and the other states we're already in," she said. "We're always looking for good places to provide quality, convenient medical care."
Contact writer Jared Hunt at email@example.com or 304-348-4836.