A new “urgency care” center in Blaine is providing emergency room-type care without the ER waits and costs.

The North Memorial Urgency Center, which opened in April in Blaine Medical Center, provides access to board-certified emergency room physicians and state-of-the-art medical imaging services, with shorter wait times and less expense than a conventional ER.

The center is a partnership between North Memorial and Multicare Associates. It’s the first urgency care center operated by North Memorial, which plans to open a second one in Minnetonka in the next year.

The center fills the gap between urgent care, which is often staffed by physician assistants, and calling 911 for an ambulance. It’s part of a growing trend in medicine to offer a greater continuum of emergency care to help control costs.

Doctors at the new center can treat chest and abdominal pain, broken bones and dislocations. They can take X-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs and CT scans. They have access to a full lab and sedation for more serious procedures.

“It’s more urgent that urgent care,” said public relations manager Wendy Jerde.

In Minnesota, three out of four ER patients are not admitted to the hospital. Those patients often wait hours to be seen in conventional ERs.

The urgency center doesn’t take ambulances, so wait times are shorter because patients aren’t getting bumped back for more acute cases.

“By providing emergency services in an out-of-hospital setting, we’ll be able to provide definitive care to a wide range of people at a lower cost with added convenience and efficiency,” said Dr. Amy Kolar, medical director of North Memorial’s Emergency Department.

Dr. Joey Duren of Centerville is the urgency center’s medical director. She and the other ER physicians divide their time between the Blaine center and their level 1 trauma center at North Memorial in Robbinsdale.

“They are able to see highly trained ER physicians in their own community,” Duren said.

Because it’s still considered outpatient, “You are not getting the hospital bill. It’s more cost-effective,” Duren said.

The urgency center staff held an open house this spring and were overwhelmed when more than 400 residents stopped in, Duren said.

Since it opened in late April, it’s averaged about 20 patients a day. Patients needing hospitalization are transferred to North Memorial. The urgency care center is located at 11855 Ulysses St. NE. It is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.