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3 orthopedics providers expand walk-in medical services

The LI health care providers say they're responding to requests from patients who would rather come to them than go to a hospital ER for immediate or off-hour services.

Dr. Charles Ruotolo, founder of Total Orthopedics and

Dr. Charles Ruotolo, founder of Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, said the practice has added walk-in hours at its Syosset office. Photo Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Three Long Island orthopedic groups said they have expanded their walk-in business this year due to what they called an increased demand for immediate or off-hour services.

Central Orthopedic Group said it began operating a walk-in clinic at its Massapequa location last week. Walk-in services at the practice will operate after regular business hours and on weekends, said Dr. Jordan Kerker, a partner at Central Orthopedic. Hours are until 10 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

"A lot of people who get hurt after hours end up at the ER, where they're waiting for a long period of time, and don't always get seen by an orthopedic specialist," Kerker said. "Here, our OrthoCare ASAP care is staffed by doctors or by physician assistants who have an orthopedic specialty. You're always going to get care from a specialist trained to handle orthopedic injuries."

Central Orthopedic, which has 15 doctors on staff, also has offices in Plainview and Rockville Centre, but the services aren't available there yet, Kerker said. 

"The Plainview location is larger, and we've discussed the possibility," he said. "But we want to see how it goes in Massapequa first. We want to see what the demand is like."

Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, which has seven locations, including five on Long Island, said it has expanded its walk-in business. Its Total Ortho Express service opened earlier this year at its 20,000-square-foot Syosset facility.

"We began offering this service in Massapequa four years ago, and in Deer Park after that," said Dr. Charles Ruotolo, the practice's founder. "The need has been there, so we've expanded to offer this at our Syosset location."

Ruotolo said about 20 percent of the 2,000 patients Total Orthopedics treats each month are walk-ins.

"As we continue to grow, I can see opening up more of these locations," he said. "But it's not like regular urgent care. I think people are willing to drive 15 minutes and get the help. A big part of the value is the continuity of care. The real value is in the follow-up visits, and helping patients through the healing process," Ruotolo said.

Another orthopedic practice, Orlin & Cohen, in late April added an after-hours, walk-in service at its Merrick office. The after-hours care is available from 5 to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

Orlin & Cohen, part of Northwell Health, said it plans to roll out the after-hours service at other locations this year.

"We want to make sure we have the right hours and the right staffing before we expand it," said Michael Passet, Orlin & Cohen's CEO. "We will probably go to Lynbrook and Woodbury next." The group has nine locations.

Passet added that the new service could help patients save time and money. "A lot of times, patients go to an urgent care facility, where they're sent to an ortho doctor anyway," he said. "Now they can come here directly."

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