Alternative Access to Care


In the midst of an emergency, there’s no time to wait.  But, when you’re admitted to an emergency room behind countless other patients suffering emergencies of their own, what’s the alternative?

Up until 2016, the Rio Grande Valley’s only viable option for emergency care has resided within hospital emergency rooms, where unless a patient is experiencing life threatening symptoms, their “emergency” might just have to wait.

alternative-access-to-care-March2016Since waiting in pain isn’t the ideal situation, Neighbors Emergency Centers (NEC) is bringing Valley residents an alternative for quality emergency care.

With over 20 years of experience in a hospital emergency room, Harlingen Neighbors Facility Director Jennifer Miner says their goal is for their patients to have an emergency room experience that is different than any. “My staff is equipped and skilled to treat any emergency with the same resources that any hospital emergency room would be able to treat,” she says. “We’re here for our patients and want to offer superb ER experiences when they need us.”

In a typical emergency room in Texas, a patient experiencing non-life-threatening symptoms could wait anywhere between four to six hours before being seen by a physician. At NEC, the door-to-doctor wait time averages 10 minutes and their average length of stay is anywhere between 45 to 95 minutes.

In less than the amount of time it would have taken a patient to merely see a physician at a hospital emergency room, a patient would have already checked in, been seen by a physician and been checked out or stabilized for transfer at Neighbors Emergency Centers.

Considered a Freestanding Emergency Center (FEC), Neighbors is opening the first three FEC’s in the region.  FEC’s are fully operational emergency rooms unaffiliated with a hospital campus.

In January, NEC opened its first Center in Harlingen, and will open two more in Brownsville and McAllen by April 2016.  NEC currently has 22 operating Centers in Texas and anticipates having 53 Centers nationwide by the end of 2016.

We’ll be available to treat your emergencies: 24 hours, 365 days a year,” says Miner. “What differentiates us is we strive to provide excellent care. Our goal is for you to walk into our facility and to be greeted and treated like you’re part of our family.

According to Neighbors Emergency Centers CEO Dr. Setul G. Patel, Recipient of the 2015 Ernst & Young Health Care Entrepreneur of the Year, NEC’s are equipped and staffed to administer the same quality of care as any hospital emergency room.

“Here at neighbors, we can provide the same level of emergency care that anybody else can. We’ve delivered babies, we’ve taken care of major trauma. So, we can do all of those things and if you need to be eventually transferred to the hospital for in-patient care or surgery, we’ll simply transfer you,” Patel says.

Beyond the exceptional one-on-one patient care administered by NEC, the organization is committed to servicing its community through various volunteer projects and community contributions.  Neighbors tries to be their patients’ best neighbor in every sense of the word.

“It’s a wonderful company to be a part of. They have a lot of heart and a lot of involvement in the community … They give back, not only to their employees, but to their community. They involve themselves in charities and a lot of community outreach that I admire,” says Celina Hernandez, Marketing Liaison for Neighbors Emergency Centers. “I feel privileged to work for a company that has brought those morals down here to the Valley,” she adds.

While FEC’s are either physician owned or considered a Hospital Outpatient Department (HOPD), Neighbors Emergency Centers are physician owned.  The physicians who have invested in NEC also see patients, which compels them to ensure the highest quality of care.

Neighbors CEO Dr. Setul G. Patel is also a practicing physician. “We have physicians that partner with us.  I am a physician myself; I still see patients one day per month.  I still know what it’s like to hold somebody’s hand and be a doctor,” he says. “ So, we look for like-minded physicians. If we have a critical mass of like-minded physicians compiled with a need in the community, it’s a perfect scenario for us to come in, and there’s a high likelihood of success when all of those factors line up like that.”

You can learn more about Neighbors Emergency Centers and their services at and follow them on social media with the hashtag #BestNeighborsEver.