- This ground floor space on the Arlington side of Potomac Yard could soon be home to a new urgent care facility. (Photo: TBD Staff)
Two new private medical facilities are on the drawing board for South Arlington, in neighborhoods that residents complain are currently lacking for nearby urgent medical care.
Simplicity Urgent Care is gearing up to open next month in the Westmont Shopping Center at Columbia Pike and South Glebe Road. The Arlington County Board has also approved plans for a facility called Potomac Medical Center to move in to an empty space in the Camden building in Potomac Yards.
The no-appointment-necessary medical centers could be a relief for residents along the Blue and Yellow line corridors, as well as along Columbia Pike.
Aurora Highlands resident Brent Spence raised this very issue as the county prepared to approve the Crystal City Sector Plan last week. He pointed out that for residents in the southern part of Arlington — especially the southeastern part — George Washington University Medical Center in D.C. is the closest emergency medical facility.
"We’re trapped here," he told the board. "The closest emergency room is at GW, and with traffic at certain times of the day, you can’t get there." He asked the board to look into bringing an emergency room closer to his neighborhood.
The new urgent care center won't offer all the services or hours of an ER, but it is aiming to have pretty comprehensive services. Expected to open by mid-November, Simplicity will have its own lab, its own X-ray machine, and the ability to fill at least some basic prescriptions, according to one of its partners, Dr. John Jones.
For non-life threatening illnesses and injuries, "we’re able to manage everything right there," he says.
The facility will also have a bilingual, Spanish-speaking staff member present at all times. Columbia Pike’s immigrant population "is definitely a group that we would like to know we’re there to help them out," Jones adds.
Simplicity Urgent Care will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Jones says the clinic may change its hours in the future depending on need.
Other options are Arlington Urgent Care on South Carlin Springs Road, or, if patients meet the strict need-based requirements, the Arlington Free Clinic. Arlington Urgent Care is open 24 hours, but the sheer volume of residents around Columbia Pike creates a need for another facility, according to Jones.
"When we did our demographics, there weren’t a lot of options for people if they had non-emergency health problems," Jones says.
Many times, residents from around Columbia Pike drive up to Virginia Hospital Center in North Arlington, according to Takis Karatounis of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. "Simplicity will fill a gap, that’s for sure," Karatounis says. "It’s something that is very welcome here."
And although it’s a little farther for them, Crystal City and its neighboring areas could also benefit from better access to care. Residents in those neighborhoods, including Arlington Ridge and Aurora Highlands, used to go to an urgent care center in Pentagon City across from Costco, according to Aurora Highlands Civic Association president Mike Dowell. But that closed several years ago.
The Columbia Pike location will be closer to his neighbors than the existing urgent care on Carlin Springs, he says. "Residents will be really interested to hear what they offer."
As for the prospective medical center at Potomac Yard, the developer of the property, Camden Potomac Yard, told the County Board in July that Potomac Medical Center had expressed interest in leasing space there. Camden needed approval to change the space from a retail to a medical office use. The board approved the change in July.
"Potomac Medical Care offers both preventative medical care and clinical services ... and minute clinical services such as minor cuts, cold/flu, and infections," read documents submitted to the board. "In addition, the clinic indicated that it would be open during evening hours."
That would be a welcome change for residents in and around Crystal City. "We're really happy with the prospect of getting urgent care back on our side of 395," Dowell says.
Information on Potomac Medical Center has been more difficult to track down, and the timing of that facility’s opening is still unclear. Some construction work appears to be underway at the site, but attempts to get in touch with someone from the company were unsuccessful this week. Staff in the Camden offices tell TBD that they should know more next month.