As the health care industry continues to localize, Providence St. John’s and Cedars-Sinai make big investments in Playa Vista

By Gary Walker

Providence St. John’s Playa Vista team includes internal medicine specialist Dr. Jay Kahng and pediatric specialists Dr. Amy Shapiro, Dr. Danelle Fisher and Dr. Daniel Lau
Photo by Michael Kraxenberger

Two of L.A.’s largest providers of hospital care are opening neighborhood-serving medical offices in Playa Vista just days apart, exemplifying a nationwide trend of decentralizing the delivery of health care.

This Thursday, Providence St. John Health Center celebrates the grand opening of Playa Vista physician offices providing primary and specialty care, including pediatric medicine. Specialty care services such as cardiology or women’s and men’s health coming online this fall.

The following Monday, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center will open an urgent care center and outpatient clinic in the 32,000-square-foot office suite above the Runway at Playa Vista retail and entertainment complex — “bringing the expert care you and your family expect from Cedars-Sinai right to Silicon Beach,” according to promotional materials. The Cedars facility will begin urgent care services immediately, with adult and pediatric primary care as well as obstetrics and gynecology coming online in the fall, with lab and X-ray equipment on site.

These facilities may be filling a need in this growing community, but there wasn’t exactly a vacuum. Playa Vista Medical Center, owned by Providence St. John parent company Providence Health & Services, has been providing urgent care on the planned community’s more established west end since 2008. And Playa Medical Plaza already offers specialty medical services and 24-hour urgent care in the northwest corner of Playa Vista near Lincoln Boulevard.

“A big part of it is trying to improve affordable care,” said Providence Saint John’s Health Center spokeswoman Patricia Aidem. “For us it’s about getting our patients the appropriate level of care.”

Urgent care facilities have been around since the late 1970s but have increased in prominence over the past five years. There were 7,400 urgent care centers operating in the U.S. last year, up from fewer than 7,100 in 2015, according to the Urgent Care Association of America. Meanwhile, the El Segundo-based business management consulting firm Accenture found that urgent care visits increased 19% nationwide between 2010 and 2015.

The Urgent Care Association of America cites “a confluence of events and awareness — primary care being somewhat hard to come by, emergency room wait times and overcrowding spreading, and patients driving their popularity,” as factors in that shift.

“There’s a real growth of [urgent care centers] that’s driven by patients’ desire for immediate access to care. As we’ve gone on the internet with everything at your fingertips, people want access to care quickly,” said Dr. Bernard Katz, medical director for UCLA Medical Center’s community physician network, which oversees urgent care centers such as Playa Marina Urgent Care on Admiralty Way.

Economics are also a factor.

“More and more health care providers are developing urgent care centers because they don’t cost as much to operate. Around-the-clock staffing and technology for hospital emergency rooms can be very expensive,” California Hospital Association spokeswoman Jan Emerson-Shea said.

“As technology has become more advanced and more care can be delivered outside the doctor’s office, you can have more points of access that are more integrated and more cost-efficient,” she explained. “And health care providers often talk about the importance of delivering the right care in the right locations.”

Katz, who says the UCLA’s Playa Marina Urgent Care is seeing 500 to 700 patients a week, also cites an increase in the number of people able to access non-emergency health care.

“The Affordable Care Act has provided insurance for more people, and they’re seeking care more readily. Often it’s just being able to access care, and that’s a direct result of the Affordable Care Act,” he said.

Katz cites four main types of urgent care patients: “Those who come in because they’re traveling and it’s convenient; patients from the UCLA health network; patients without a primary care doctor; and patients who chose the facility as an ongoing care center because it may not be important to them to have a primary care doctor.

Mary Clare Lingel, vice president of strategic integration at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Network, said the new Cedars-Sinai urgent care center in Playa Vista is about finding the right fit with that growing community.

“We have chosen these specialties for Playa Vista to meet the urgent and ongoing clinical needs of all who live and work in the community, as well as those who reside in the broader south coastal region of Los Angeles. Urgent care is a key component of our clinical services, offering extended hours and easy access for the most commonly treated conditions and concerns,” Lingel said.


Providence Saint John’s Health Center celebrates the grand opening of its new Playa Vista medical office from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21, at 12555 W. Jefferson Blvd., Ste. 300, Del Rey. Call (888) 432-5464.

Cedars-Sinai Playa Vista opens Monday, Aug. 21, in Runway at Playa Vista, 12746 W. Jefferson Blvd., Playa Vista. Call (800) 233-2771.