Fewer people have been bringing their broken bones and sprained ankles to Asante Health System's urgent care clinic in Grants Pass, and Asante managers have decided to close the clinic Sept. 28.

Fewer people have been bringing their broken bones and sprained ankles to Asante Health System's urgent care clinic in Grants Pass, and Asante managers have decided to close the clinic Sept. 28.

Asante is the parent company for Rogue Valley Medical Center, Three Rivers Community Hospital in Grants Pass, Genesis Recovery Center in Central Point and Hearthstone nursing center in Medford.

Patient visits at the Grants Pass urgent clinic are down about 14 percent over 2006, said Rick Rankin, director of Asante Work Health, who also supervises the urgent care clinic.

The clinic saw 9,110 patients in 2006, and annualized projections for 2007 were for fewer than 8,000 patients.

"It was just not economically viable to continue, even at last year's numbers," Rankin said Tuesday.

Urgent care centers cater to patients with medical problems that are not life threatening but need immediate attention, such as badly sprained ankles or cuts that need to be stitched. Many communities have built urgent care centers to provide a less-expensive alternative to hospital emergency departments.

Rankin said Asante's occupational health office in Grants Pass, which has shared space with the urgent care clinic, will not be affected by the closure.

He said Asante managers don't know why their urgent care center is seeing fewer patients. Grants Pass is continuing to grow, and emergency room visits at Asante's Three Rivers Community Hospital have held fairly steady over the past two years.

"We just don't have the answer," Rankin said.

"Our hope is they're seeing their primary care doctor," he said, "but we don't really know that."

Asante's closure will mean more work for Valley Immediate Care's new Grants Pass office, said Brent Kell, practice administrator.

Valley Immediate Care, which operates two clinics in Medford, opened its Grants Pass office June 20, and has been seeing about 50 patients per day there, Kell said.

"I'm saddened to see they're not going to be around," he said.

Asante's closure gives Grants Pass residents one less option for medical care, Kell said.

"My big concern is we're losing access to health care," he said. "For all of us as consumers, that's not good."

Valley Immediate Care's office at 162 N.E. Beacon Drive is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Twenty-two people who worked at Asante's combined urgent care/work health center will have to find new jobs, Rankin said. Asante managers will try to help them find work within the Asante system or with other health care organizations.

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492 or e-mail bkettler@mailtribune.com