published Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

3 urgent care centers planned for Chattanooga area

A rendering of a planned Doctors Express on Gunbarrel Road.
A rendering of a planned Doctors Express on Gunbarrel Road.

• 1511 Gunbarrel Road, Chattanooga

• 5239 Highway 153, Chattanooga

• 170 Mouse Creek Road, Cleveland, Tenn.

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  • photo
    Larry Kugler, left, and Jack Fromm are two of the partners in the group bringing Doctors Express to Chattanooga and Cleveland, Tenn.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A group of Cleveland, Tenn., businesspeople plans to open three urgent care centers in the region, saying the units will both upgrade patient health care and lower costs.

The Doctors Express sites are slated to open in Hixson, East Brainerd and in Cleveland, said Larry Kugler, one of the group's principals.

"We'll make people feel welcome and important, and equip [the facilities] with the most modern medical equipment," said Kugler, who added that his group is to invest nearly $4 million in the three facilities.

Kugler said plans are to have a physician at each site when the centers are open rather than for patients to see a physician's assistant or nurse practitioner.

"We'll provide the highest level of immediate treatment when you need it," he said.

Kugler said they'll also cut bureaucracy and red tape, as well as offer better and less expensive service than hospital emergency rooms.

"I can foresee a situation where the longest wait is 15 minutes," he said. "We'll be staffed sufficiently to give them full attention immediately. Our operation will be entirely digital."

Kugler said the Doctors Express system will allow potential patients to register online or via smart phone before their arrival to expedite their visit.

Doctors Express is a medical franchise composed of urgent care and primary health clinics. According to its website, it was founded in 2005 by a physician, and has operations in about 20 states, including Memphis in Tennessee and Atlanta in Georgia.

Jeff Jennings of NAI Charter Real Estate Corp., who helped Kugler's group locate sites, said Doctors Express has 50 units nationally with 15 more under development.

"Doctors Express is the second-largest urgent care company in the country with plans on being the largest by the end of the year," he said.

Jennings said the business side is run by experienced executives, allowing their medical professionals to concentrate on patients.

Kugler said he and his partners, which include Jack Fromm, brother John Kugler and John Tacker, have been involved in ventures including a small loan business and the rent-to-own sector.

"My partnership group has lots of experience in serving the public," he said.

Kugler said plans are to build a facility along Gunbarrel Road in East Brainerd. In Hixson and in Cleveland, they will renovate existing buildings.

He said plans are to start with eight full-time employees on staff every hour at the centers, which are to be open from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

"We'll accept all kinds of insurance," Kugler said.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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