INOVA opens urgent care center in Ballston

This week INOVA health system opened its latest urgent care center in Ballston, bringing the total to six in Northern Virginia -- and it's just the beginning.

The plan is to expand to other communities. It's a health trend that's catching on by healthcare providers, and patients.

For out-of-towner Ian Hopkins, the heatwave took its toll, and brought him to the INOVA urgent care center in Vienna.

He said, “It might be some issues with strep, and I have asthma triggered by the humidity.” For the Ohio resident, the clinic was the best option around.

“Urgent care is significantly cheaper than going to the emergency room even though I have insurance, it's about an 80-dollar difference for me,” said Hopkins.

With immediate availability, and no insurance, Chris Gabriel also paid a visit to the same center after an unexpected encounter with bees. He said, “I got stung 12-times or so.”

Instead of a trip to the Emergency Room, more and more patients are turning to urgent care. According to the National Institute for Health Care Reform, around 9,000 urgent care centers have popped up around the country in recent years.

Just this week, INOVA opened another location in the Ballston section of Arlington.

Loren Rufino with INOVA Health System said, “We felt like we could provide a service to the Ballston community without having them leave their neighborhood.”

According to Rufino, patients can stop in 7-days a week and most holidays with or without an appointment, and both doctors and nurses are on-site to treat acute medical issues.

INOVA’s Dr. Nandini Koka said she treats common illnesses like upper respiratory type infections, flu, urinary tract infection, or strep throat. With his visit lasting about an hour, Hopkins said, “It's much more efficient than waiting in a doctor's office.”

Rufino said urgent care centers have helped reduce unnecessary visits to the emergency room. Moving forward, future plans at the Ballston site include offering orthopedic, sports medicine, OB/GYN and behavioral health services to patients.