Like many health care providers in South Florida, the Doral-based urgent care center for orthopedic injuries was forced to close in March when the state banned elective procedures and local stay-at-home orders were issued. OrthoNOW had many more patients through telemedicine, but co-founder Dr. Alejandro Badia was still concerned about the future of his company.
OrthoNOW obtained a Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan that helped it retain employees and reopen its Doral location once the elective procedures ban was lifted.
The practiced reopened its Doral office on May 26 and after experiencing stronger than anticipated patient demand, OrthoNOW expanded its hours a week later. It’s now open from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. most days.
Eric Rylander, VP of operations at OrthoNOW, said there was pent-up demand from patients who were in pain for months, but didn’t want to risk leaving the house.
In our 10-year history, we never had so many patients,” he said. “People are becoming more confident and wilhng to go out of their homes and seek medical attention.”
The process of seeing patients is slower than usual, Rylander added. OrthoNOW is having patients wait for appointments in their cars and sanitizing exam rooms between visits. Most patient forms are filled out online.
Badia said urgent care clinics and outpatient surgery centers like OrthoNOW will see more patients because many of them see these offices as safer and low-cost alternatives to hospitals. OrthoNOW can treat broken bones for thousands of dollars less than an emergency room.
People think about their health care choices more and we are a good alternative,” he said.
OithoNOW has yet to reopen its urgent care center on Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami Beach, but Badia said he’s in negotiations with the landlord for a deal that would allow it to reopen.
The company recently hired a business development specialist to approach big employers about utilizing OrthoNOW for their health plans and worker’s compensation programs, Badia said. He’s also looking for a CEO to help launch its neKt phase of growth. The company is still talking to investors about a partnership or sale.
“When even-body else is down, you will see people who seize the opportunity, whether it be in real estate or health care, and do well,” Badia said.