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Urgent Care Center Opens in West Hartford

Emergency room doctor and his wife, an emergency care nurse, saw a need in town and decided to fill it.

Dr. Michael Gutman and his wife, Yahel Gutman, an R.N., have spent most of their lives on the front lines of emergency medicine at institutions such at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford and, for Dr. Gutman, in Iraq and Bosnia as well. But with the opening of New England Urgent Care West Hartford on North Main Street, the West Hartford couple can bring their expertise a little closer to home.

"With health care reform coming into effect, there's going to be this huge gap that's ever-widening — the need for primary care physicians," Dr. Gutman said on Tuesday. A lot of newly insured patients, he said, will start showing up in emergency rooms to address acute complaints that aren't necessarily life-threatening emergencies.

"Urgent care as an industry is going to bridge that gap," Dr. Gutman said.

The brand new facility opened its doors Tuesday in the former YMCA building at 21 North Main Street that also houses Rosenberg Orthodontics. It will be open Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and weekends and holidays from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Melanie Thomson, creative marking director, said Urgent Care is not for life-threatening situations, but for those times when a patient's regular doctor is not available, such as before or after normal office hours, or on weekends and holidays.

"Let's say you break an arm," Thomson said. "They can set fractures, and there's not the long wait" of an emergency room.

The facility offers these common ailments as typical situations it will handle: colds, cough and flu-like symptoms; respiratory illness; ear infections; abdominal pain; allergic reactions; sprains, fractures and breaks; face and eye injuries; chest pain; bites and stings; lacerations; rashes and skin infections; urinary tract infections; sports injuries; dehydration; and school or work-related injuries.

The difference between urgent care and a walk-in clinic, Dr. Gutman said, is that his facility is run by medical staff with emergency room experience. The facility can provide X-rays, do lab work and give IVs.

Dr. Gutman, who joined the Army Reserves following the Sept. 11 attacks and has served in Bosnia and Iraq, will continue to work part-time at St. Francis Hospital. He received his MD/PhD from the University of Western Ontario.

Yahel Gutman, who received the Nightingale Award for Excellence in Nursing from St. Francis Hospital in 2009, graduated from Hebrew University.

"People know me," Dr. Gutman said when asked why he chose to open his facility in West Hartford. "And I wanted to give back to my community."

The facility takes most forms of insurance, as well as cash and credit card payments. The staff will check with patients' insurance companies to verify coverage as well.

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