BLOOMFIELD, N.J. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Instead of buying jeans, having lunch and getting a haircut in one stop, think mammogram, blood pressure check and pharmaceuticals. Like America's shopping malls, so-called "medical malls" provide an array of medical services under one roof.
Now you see them, now you don't. Some hospitals in America's urban areas have flat lined financially. In New Jersey alone, 26 hospitals have closed over the past two decades.
Across the country, developers are pumping new life into old buildings by turning them into medical malls.
E. Stephen Kirby, Managing Partner of Community Healthcare Associates, LLC told Ivanhoe, "There's a pharmacist in the building, there's an imaging center in the building, and we have physical therapy."
For some patients, you can't beat convenience. Maryam Mere was recently in a car wreck and needed a check-up near her home.
Mere told Ivanhoe, "Especially after the accident you don't want to drive."
Sharad Sahu, M.D., Director of Physician Affairs at Hackensack University medical Center in Hackensack New Jersey told Ivanhoe, "A hospital has to have an emergency room so patients cannot be turned away, while the medical malls have got Urgent Care Centers and you know are basically payer-based."
Critics worry medical malls will take business away from existing hospitals and create more systems in trouble. However residents in urban areas say access to quality care and fewer empty, blighted buildings may be just the shot in the arm they need.
While medical malls have been around for more than a decade, researchers say the concept has really taken off over the past five years. Some say, it's in part due to new insurance reimbursement models from the Affordable Care Act.