Today is the deadline for hospitals and other healthcare providers to apply for state grants to transform part of St. Vincent’s Hospital into an urgent care center. Those are typically clinics that treat serious but not life-threatening conditions--like sprained ankles--but not heart attacks.
"We’re really asking for people to put something together that has not only simple urgent care," says Richard Cook from the Health Department. "It may even go a little bit beyond the normal urgent care--perhaps access to a C.T., etc..."
Critics say the state's plan would be a poor substitute for St. Vincent’s Emergency Room. But Cook says that many of the 60,000 people who visited that emergency room last year could be treated in one of these urgent care centers. He says it would minimize the impact of St. Vincent's closure on other E.R.’s.