The urgent and emergency care options just got a lot better for Corpus Christi patients, thanks to Drs. Daniel Wagner and Brian Rich and their focus on providing solutions at TLC Medical Center and TLC Complete Care.
By: Sarah Tindall
Photos by: Paul Marshall
The entrepreneurial spirit is something that cannot be taught, but instead is innate in those who determine to strike out on their own, accepting the challenges and forever striving for new realms to conquer and problems to solve.
That spirit is what drives Drs. Daniel Wagner and Brian Rich to continue to innovate at their local medical clinics, TLC Medical Center, located at 4117 S. Staples St., Ste. 140, in Parkdale Plaza, and TLC Complete Care at 7330 S. Staples St. between Lipes and Yorktown on the city’s bustling south side.
It started in a duck blind. On a cold and dreary day in a duck blind in an El Campo rice field, Wagner shared his vision with Rich. He wanted to bring true urgent care to Corpus Christi – that is, unscheduled care owned and operated by board-certified emergency physicians and emergency staff. That was 2008, and at the time, only a dream, as both physicians worked fulltime in the emergency departments of Corpus Christi hospitals.
“We just realized that there were so many problems with how emergency rooms were run in large hospitals,” Wagner says, “and we knew that we could streamline the process, put a special emphasis on timely patient care, and make the experience so much better for our clients.”
The two doctors spent two years kicking the idea around, until a Laguna Madre duck hunting trip in early 2010 had them together again, this time committed to getting the project off the ground.
“We were lying there in the mud, talking it out,” Wagner says. “The economy was terrible, everyone told it us it was the worst time to start a business, but we saw an opportunity and knew the time was now. I gave Brian an ultimatum: I needed to know by the end of the hunting trip if he was with me or not.”
“The birds started flying, the excitement intensified and after a few high fives, I said, ‘I’m in!’” Rich says. “We went to work on the project the remainder of 2010.”
On Jan. 3, 2011, TLC opened its doors at its first location at 7326 South Staples, starting with just one patient that whole day. “We took the best care of that lady! We fluffed her pillow, gave her a blanket … I bet she still remembers the individual care she got that day,” laugh the doctors.
With its emphasis on streamlining the process and getting patients in and out quickly and with excellent customer service at every stage, from when they walk in the door until they are discharged, TLC quickly developed a reputation for service with patients and the practice grew rapidly. The first year was tough, as the doctors continued to work their day jobs in local hospitals and also worked fulltime in the clinic, but their hard work and dedication paid off, as the fledgling business, the first of its kind in Corpus Christi, prospered.
By 2013, the doctors were ready for another leap: opening the second location at 4117 S. Staples in Parkdale Plaza to serve the city’s Midtown region. Urgent care was an important service for TLC to provide, but never to stagnate and always looking for new opportunities to better serve their patients, the doctors realized that emergency care was also needed.
“With our background in emergency medicine, we realized there was a need here that was not being accommodated,” Rich says. “ER overcrowding was stressing our local health care systems, and we knew that we could expand our business model to accommodate those patients who needed emergency care.”
“In early 2013, we met the physicians of Complete Care in San Antonio through a mutual friend, Dr. Ruddy Hilliard,” Wagner says. “They are Air Force guys, and they were like us: emergency physicians who started their own urgent care facility and transitioned it to a standalone emergency department. They were very successful with this model, so we partnered with them, transitioning our first clinic from an urgent care facility to a freestanding emergency room, which opened on Dec. 16, 2014.”
The result has patients cheering. Customer service is the hallmark of the TLC brand, and the doctors train every single staff position, from front desk all the way to checkout, to ensure that the patient’s experience is the best possible. The doctors work hard to ensure that every interaction with customers is as accurate, pleasant and efficient as possible.
The result is a world-class facility featuring ultrasound, X-ray and CAT scan machines, top-notch trained staff and unbelievably short wait times. The average time for urgent care patients, from when they walk in the door until they are discharged, is 45 minutes, and for ER patients, it is 65 minutes. Most doctors’ offices can’t compete with those times, much less hospitals. TLC is providing a viable, affordable alternative to traditional medicine, and patients couldn’t be happier.
“There’s more than one time people said, ‘You can’t do that,’ and we’ve done it successfully,” Rich says. “There are significant challenges up ahead for ER patient care – access, ER overcrowding, turnaround times, patient satisfaction; we are part of the solution to that problem.”
And they have managed to find this solution in a cost-effective manner: They take all forms of insurance, and they have out-of-pocket expenses that are consistent with any other ER and doctor’s office.
So for patients, whether they are seeking treatment for a cough or a heart attack, their options just got a whole lot better. And TLC is expanding, starting construction on a second ER at the Parkdale Plaza location this summer. Soon both locations will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing urgent and ER care to patients whenever they find themselves in need of it.
“The entrepreneurial bug just keeps biting me,” Wagner says. “New businesses, new goals; I’m just not comfortable getting the patients in the door. I want them to enjoy this business we’ve created and for it to be there for whatever their needs are, from a kid with a broken bone to an adult with chest congestion – getting them in and out so they are getting the best care possible without wasting their time.”
These two local doctors, who are dedicated to serving their local community and love living here where they grew up, are so proud to bring such a high level of care to each patient who enters their clinics, giving them the TLC treatment seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
For more information about TLC Complete Care and TLC Medical Center, visit www.tlcmedicalcenter.com or call 361-993-0188.