Chief Emergency Center Officer: Neighbors Health CEO (or chief executive officer) Setul Patel, M.D., aims to change how people access health care.
This summer, Westchase District welcomed new neighbors…Neighbors Health System, that is. The parent company of Neighbors Emergency Centers has occupied the entire building at 10800 Richmond Avenue. Relocating from Pearland, the company’s new 100,000 square-foot headquarters initially will hold about 200 employees with room for expansion. Dr. Setul Patel, chief executive officer of Neighbors Health, said it’s the next step in the evolution of a rapidly-growing company that’s opening freestanding emergency rooms throughout the country.
ER = expanding rapidly
Neighbors was founded in 2008 by a group of eight emergency physicians who believed they could provide a more personalized experience than in the traditional hospital emergency room. “Our physicians spend way more time with their patients than with other ER doctors at busy hospitals,” Patel said.
Beginning with a single facility in Bellaire, Neighbors now has grown to 29 locations in Texas alone (nine in Houston), with new sites opening in Colorado and Rhode Island. Last year, the Houston Business Journal named Neighbors the fourth fastest growing business in Houston. “There are about 600 freestanding emergency rooms in the country versus 10,000 urgent care centers so it’s still a relatively new concept,” Patel said. “Urgent care centers aren’t licensed or regulated by the state while we are. We provide a higher level of trauma and emergency care and we’re able to take some of the pressure off hospital ER rooms while still referring appropriate cases to them.”
Neighbors Emergency Centers accept most major health insurance plans, though they don’t accept Medicare and Medicaid. In an era of declining reimbursements, how does Neighbors stay profitable? “We’re leaner with our resources,” Patel said. “For example, we won’t purchase a $3 million CT machine when a $1 million one will work for what an ER needs. We train our nursing staff to run labs so we don’t have the overhead of an additional lab technician. We require less volume to sustain ourselves.”
Patel said Neighbors also has a unique business model that allows qualified ER docs the opportunity to become shareholders in the organization. “The American dream of business ownership is available to emergency physicians in a turnkey package to our partners,” Patel said.
The right address
So why did Neighbors Health decide to relocate to Westchase District? “I think Westchase District is an outstanding business environment with lots of great office buildings,” Patel said. “We’re right near Richmond at the Beltway, so there’s great access to airports and major roads. Also, as we become a larger, more prominent company, I think ZIP code and address is important. Couple an attractive area with a building that met our needs and I think it was a good business decision to relocate.”
Patel equipped the building with a mock trauma area complete with patient rooms in which doctors and nurses can train. “It closely resembles the layout of the architecture of one of our freestanding ERs,” he said. “It’s designed to help staff manage patient flow and streamline protocol for maximum efficiency.
“Another unique thing about our building,” he continued, “is there are five floors and each one reflects one of our five core values – the heart, the spark, the guardian, the smile and the window. Each floor is themed with colors and messages that correspond to a core value. We saw it as a unique opportunity to communicate our culture from an environmental standpoint and I think we’ve done it tastefully.”
Neighbors’ corporate culture, Patel said, is important to him. “For the last four years we’ve ranked in the Houston Chronicle as one of the top workplaces for mid-sized companies. Entrepreneur magazine ranked us #16 in the country for top workplace cultures. Everyone in the company is excited about getting into these newer markets and spread the gospel of what we’re doing. We’re about changing medicine, about the way that people access health care.”
10800 Richmond Avenue