David Olinger, The Denver Post

Four new Centura facilities will offer urgent and emergency care under one roof, CEO Gary Campbell announced Tuesday. All will be open 24 hours a day, he said, and patients will be treated according to their needs.

People who come to them will be “presumed urgent care patients,” he said. “The nurses will triage you (and) we’ll figure out later on whether it’s going to be billed as an emergency or urgent care.”

Consumer advocates say stand-alone emergency departments typically charge several times as much for conditions that could be treated instead at an urgent-care clinic. “It’s definitely beneficial for consumers to be treated at the appropriate level of care,” said Adam Fox at the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. The urgent-care option could benefit hospitals as well, he said, “so they’re not having to treat non-emergency cases in the ER.” One risk of setting up different kinds of stand-alone facilities, he said, is that families who change neighborhoods could accidentally “default to the ER” when seeking an urgent-care provider.

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