DOVER -- "Patients love the convenience of seeing the doctor at the time that works for them, whether it's early morning, in the evening, or on the weekend."

Karie Rice, manager of Union Hospital's FirstCare, said helping fit healthcare in to the busy 21st century lifestyle is a big reason that the hospital's urgent care center has grown in popularity since it opened seven years ago.

"Families with kids, people working shifts, and those without family doctors have found that the wide range of hours and no appointment needed makes a doctor's visit possible when it fits their schedule," Rice said.

Rice said the FirstCare hours are weekdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and weekends 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. FirstCare is closed on holidays.

When FirstCare opened in 2007, the staff treated an average of 30 patients daily for minor illnesses, injuries, and other non-life-threatening emergencies that needed a physician's attention. Today, Rice said FirstCare is seeing 50 to 70 patients daily, as hours have expanded along with the range of services offered.

"In addition to seeing a physician who is a member of the Union Hospital Department of Family Medicine, patients can use FirstCare for routine lab tests and x-rays," Rice noted. "We also do sports physicals and general physicals for people of all ages, which is a great option when time is short."

Kim Nathan, RN of Dover is the director of Employee Health and Wellness, Occupational Medicine, and FirstCare. She said the urgent care center plays an important role in the hospital's mission of serving the healthcare needs of the community.

"When urgent care began it was seen as a quick fix, a one-time stop for people who didn't need the Emergency Department level of care," Nathan said. "Today, Union Hospital FirstCare not only offers convenient care for non-emergency medical issues, but serves to help people establish longer term relationships with local primary care doctors to manage their health, do preventative care, and serve the patient over a long period of time."

Staffing changes at FirstCare this year have included the appointment of Fred Shoff, D.O. as the full-time physician. Evening and weekend hours are covered on a part-time basis by five other physician members of the Union Hospital Family Medicine Department.

"Dr. Shoff will be familiar to many local people from his days as a private practice doctor in this area from 1985 to 2004," Nathan said. "We are also adding Jen Thomas, a Nurse Practitioner, to see patients under the doctor's supervision. That will help reduce waiting at busy times and enable us to see patients more quickly."

Dr. Shoff says enjoys his FirstCare practice because he can interact with many different people.

"We treat everybody like a person and take a personal interest in their life," Dr. Shoff said. "I'll ask patients about their families, their jobs, and what's going on in their life besides the illness or injury that brought them to FirstCare."

"That means parents can get their kids to the doctor first thing in the morning or later after school," Rice noted. "Working people don't have to lose paid time to see the doctor and when things happen on the weekend you don't have to wait for the next week to get medical care."

Union Hospital FirstCare is located at 340 Oxford St., in the Oxford Medical Building off South Wooster Avenue in Dover directly behind CVS Pharmacy.

FirstCare accepts all insurance plans.