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‘OK, but then I need to stop at the mall for a DQ and an MRI’

1/20/2014 | Real Estate Blog

A new health center is opening in the Exton Square Mall outside of Philadelphia. It is not a quick-stop clinic, either; it is a full-service, 32,000-square-foot primary care clinic with a staff of 75. In addition to its “traditional” clinic space, the site will boast a cancer center, an urgent care clinic, a laboratory and even a physical therapy and rehabilitation center.

And it’s all conveniently located on the first floor, right next to the J.C. Penney.

The health center, operated by Main Line Health, will take the place of two ambulatory-care centers located nearby. According to a health system representative, those centers were “tucked into business plazas,” so they lacked visibility. By relocating to the mall, the health system will increase its visibility and, the representative said, be more convenient for its patients.

The concept may be new to Main Line Health, but mall owner Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust has some experience with it. A clinic operated by another health system opened in PREIT’s Plymouth Meeting Mall in Montgomery County in 2012. But while Main Line Health is deliberately relocating to Exton, the other clinic ended up in a mall “because the opportunity presented itself.” That health system has no plans to expand its retail presence, while Main Line Health is more than open to the possibility.

There are perks for patients at the new clinic, too, that weren’t available at the old sites. In addition to drop-off lanes outside the mall entrance, the clinic offers valet parking. The clinic will have extended hours, as well, staying open at night and on weekends. And regardless of the number of services a patient has, he or she will only have to register once.

One question that has not been answered is how the other retailers feel about having the clinic in the mall. With only one other clinic in the area, there is little data on whether the clinic drives customers to the stores or the restaurants or vice versa. J.C. Penney will have little time to find out: The Exton Square Mall store is one of 33 slated to close later this year, according to Market Watch.

Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, “Region’s second health-center in a mall to open this week,” John George, Jan. 13, 2014