They opened in January, right in the thick of flu season. Strep throat was probably the most common ailment at the time. Then they moved into spring, and with that, came tick season.
While the doctors and physician’s assistants are still handling a few tick bites a week, the issue du jour right now at Patchogue Urgent Care seems to be dog bites. And the occasional stepped-on-a-nail.
Despite their long hours, the folks behind the family-run walk-in clinic found time last week to celebrate the opening of the business, which is designed to treat common ailments — often during hours a primary care physician wouldn’t be in the office, like Christmas Eve — and help people avoid an ER visit.
The family was joined by area business leaders and others last Wednesday evening for an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the practice, located at 152 North Ocean Avenue, not far from Main Street.
“People around the community have been coming in for ailments like colds, ear infections, minor wounds, minor trauma, chest pains,” said Dr. Azmat Iqbal, whose two sons also own and help operate Patchogue Urgent Care. “Not the very sick. Sick enough to see a doctor, but not have to wait eight hours at the emergency room.”
He has found that, more than anything, he and his staff help allay anxieties for people who might be worried about a physical situation, but would otherwise have to wait several days to see their physician.
“Many times it’s a minor problem and not a serious thing, of course,” he said. “But we’ll do some tests, x-rays. When their private doctor’s off on the weekend, we’re here to bridge the gap between primary care and the patient.”
The family had been looking to set up a practice in Patchogue, but soon realized there wasn’t much of a demand for primary care doctors, said Owais Iqbal, the clinic’s chief administrator.
So instead they focused on a way to immediately treat “more of those common, episodic,” ailments here,” he said. “So we created Patchogue Urgent Care.”
The closest, similar walk-in clinics, to his knowledge, are in Sayville and Riverhead, he said.
“I don’t like to say we’re an emergency department, because I don’t want to attract more serious stuff, but people do stop here on the way to the emergency room,” he said. “They say that 25 percent of emergency room visits are avoidable, and usually because access to care wasn’t there, so you have a minor thing that gets elevated.”
Like dog bites, Owais Iqbal said, which do need to be treated right away.
“Even ear wax has gotten to be a big problem,” he added. “I’m not sure why.”
Photo: Dr. Adeel Iqbal, Patchogue Urgent Care clinic’s medical director, holds the ceremonial scissors at Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Credit: Michael White)