A stroll through Formé Urgent Care & Wellness Center’s White Plains office will have you questioning everything you thought you knew about urgent care. From its upscale feel, you know it’s no sterile back corner of CVS or Walgreens. But it’s when President and Founder Gina Cappelli talks about its endocrinologist, its pain-management specialist, or its podiatrist, that it becomes really clear that Formé is not your typical urgent-care center.
Whereas most urgent-care centers are owned by physicians licensed to practice internal medicine, Formé is a NYS Public Health Law Article 28-licensed facility, which allows it to conduct more invasive, “emergency” treatment—stitches for lacerations or dog bites, for example, and even outpatient surgery—a huge advantage over an internist-owned center.
To be clear, the ER is still your first stop if you’re having a heart attack, but Cappelli’s goal is to take as many patients as possible off the hospitals’ hands. “Patients are using the hospital as their primary care, or for asthma attacks or lacerations, and they’re waiting four or five hours,” says Cappelli. “There’s no reason for patients like that to be sitting in the ER when they can come see us.”
To get patients to switch from such hospital visits, Cappelli is doing everything from TV advertising to door-to-door visits. “We’re going out to offices saying, ‘Okay, MasterCard, you’re self-insured so you only pay when a patient needs something. You could send them to the hospital, where you’ll pay $3,000, or you can send them to us, where you’ll pay one-tenth of that.’” She’s even finding ways to partner with hospitals, such as White Plains Hospital. “When we need a specialist we don’t have, I want to be able speak to someone [at White Plains Hospital] who will take my patient immediately,” she says. “If [patients go to White Plains Hospital] and it’s not an emergency-room case, [White Plains Hospital] should be sending those patients to us.”
And when they do, Cappelli hopes patients will make a note to use Formé for other medical needs, like physical therapy and nutritional services. Cappelli is also on track to open 3,000 additional square feet of space this summer, which will house a combined dermatological, cosmetic, vascular, and anti-aging division, or, as she’s calling it, The Aesthetic Center by Formé.
Formé is doing it all with significantly lower overhead than a hospital, so co-pays range from zero to $50—nowhere near hospital bills, which can reach several hundred dollars if you’re not actually admitted.