Ken Goldberg (above, right) never thought he’d be working in the medical field, but when he became the owner of a franchise location of AFC Urgent Care, suddenly the things he was dealing with on a daily basis changed.
“It’s very different than the corporate world. I spent 25 years in finance and Wall Street jobs. But I wanted to have my own business. I found this and jumped in. Everything from dealing with patient issues, to ordering medical supplies to dealing with doctors and doing hiring,” he says.
The AFC Urgent Care location he owns just on the other side of the Wilton-Norwalk border on Rt. 7 (near the Norwalk DMV) is one of 160 urgent care centers under the umbrella of American Family Care; half are corporate owned, and the other half are owned by franchisees like him. When Goldberg first opened one year ago, the center was called Doctor’s Express, but the name for all 160 centers was changed just a few months ago.
The centers capitalize on a shift in the medical industry, and represent a growing trend. The facility is sort of a cross between the intimacy of a doctor’s office and the anonymity of a hospital emergency room. There are 5 exam rooms, a procedure room and an x-ray room.
Goldberg points to one factor that helped contribute to the rise in usage of urgent care facilities like his. “Now places like AFC Urgent Care are full on urgent-care centers, with top notch facilities and equipment.”
There’s also the convenience factor.
“These days, people are typically in a rush, so the convenience is huge. The fact that you can walk in, there are extended hours, 7-days-a-week, and have a doctor look at you for all types of illnesses and injuries is just great,” Goldberg says of the appeal for this kind of medical treatment. “In addition, there are fewer primary care physicians, so people have to wait longer when they call. You need a school physical this week, but the office says you can come in next week.”
In fact, school physicals are top of mind right now, and that’s one of the key services AFC provides, even on a walk-in basis. That’s the tip of the iceberg. “We like to say almost all types of non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses. We have x-ray capability for someone who, let’s say, fell playing football and injured an ankle. All types of minor illnesses from upper respiratory, gastro, bee stings, rashes, it’s a broad range.”
AFC Urgent Care can do physical exams for both kids and adults. Many area businesses that require a physical for new employees use AFC for that; the center can also perform drug testing and worker compensation exams. And all of it is available on a walk-in basis, something that comes in handy when busy parents realize they need to get their kids a physical around the start of the school year.
“We’re open 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday-Friday, and until 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. People can just walk in and get these physicals done, get the forms filled out. We can do vaccinations too–we’re part of the state program for kids under 19 years old. We like to make it easy–we like when people call ahead and we can schedule them, but they’re always welcome to just walk in,” Goldberg says.
Board Certified Doctors
The physicians who work at AFC are board certified, and typically, says Goldberg, their backgrounds are in family medicine, internal medicine, and possibly emergency medicine. “We want to know they’re comfortable treating patients who are 2-years-old to 100, to make sure they can handle that wide range.” If necessary, the center will make referrals to local specialists for follow-up care, for instance to orthopedists following broken bones.
Goldberg says that despite being a medical institution, he’s trying to instill a personal, community touch. One anecdote illustrates this. “One time I got a call from a woman with three kids, who’d just moved here from out of the country and she needed physicals for them. She didn’t have a car, so I actually went and got them where they were and brought them here, and we go them all set. That’s not the norm, I can’t really advertise that,” he laughs, adding, “but we’re really making an effort. We’re really trying to be part of the community and do a nice job for folks.”
Along those lines, they’ve done other kinds of community outreach, as a sponsor of Wilton Soccer and Little League, and taking part in events like 5K races and the Wilton Street Fair. AFC Urgent Care is also a member of the Wilton Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re excited to be part of the community and we really like to be able to make people’s healthcare needs more efficient. We’re typically much cheaper than an emergency room visit, and we can help with the full range of insurance plans, we take them all. We’d even love to have people just come in and check out the facilities if they want. They can meet the doctors and the staff,” he says.
The medical director is Dr. Mark Wasserman, and like Goldberg, he also hopes people will see AFC as a place where they’re in good hands. “That they’ll get good quality medical care done quickly and efficiently. And we try to make what may normally be an unpleasant experience more pleasant. Sometimes it’s very hard to get into a primary care doctor if you even have one–I hear several times a day from patients, ‘I called my doctor and I couldn’t get in.’ They wait two weeks to be seen.”
That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t from connections with patients that come through the center.
“It’s fun to meet people, and when they come back it gets to be like primary care in that way. We see a lot of familiar faces coming back now, and I like that,” he says.
AFC Urgent Care is located at 607 Main Ave./Rte. 7, in Norwalk, just over the Norwalk-Wilton border (near the drive-thru Starbucks).