Malls are one of the greatest modern conveniences. Take Plymouth Meeting Mall. All within a few steps of each other, you can browse at Boscov’s, get a sandwich at Subway, pick up some electronics at Radio Shack, try on shoes at Payless, stick the kiddies on the carousel, or get an MRI at Mercy.

You read correctly. Conshohocken-based Mercy Health System has just opened a spanking new 23,000 square-foot health center in the heart of the mall with all kinds of out-patient services.

If you shop ‘til you drop they can probably resuscitate you.

“It will enable us to reach further into the community and provide health care services,” said Sister of Mercy Christine McCann, chair of the Mercy Health System Board of Directors.

This is right in line with the philosophy of Sisters of Mercy foundress Catherine McAuley, who went wherever there was a need and tried to respond in creative ways, Sister Christine noted.

The Health Center, which was dedicated and blessed on Sept. 18, has 14 examination spaces for primary care and specialty physicians, MRI, ultrasound and x-ray facilities, physical therapy, a lab and even walk-in services. Among the physician specialties are cardiology, bariatrics (weight loss), orthopedics, general surgery, gynecology, endocrinology and breast Surgery.

It will be open seven days a week and of course, most medical insurances are accepted.

Mercy Health is a multi-hospital system which includes Mercy Hospital, Philadelphia; Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital, Darby and Mercy Suburban Hospital, East Norriton. The new clinic comes directly under Mercy Suburban, but it is really designed to replace the need for more costly hospitalization for many of the services it provides.

The health center has been in the works for about two years, explained Cathy Conallen, CEO for Acute Care at Mercy Health Systems.

“An urgent care center and family practice in a mall are a new concept for Mercy,” she said. “We are glad to embark on it.”

If this is a new concept for Mercy it is also one of the few such mall-based health centers in the country.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Dr. Ed O’Dell, the medical director at the new facility. “We will have lots of exposure here in the mall. It’s easy access for the patients to stop in and a place where they come anyway.”

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Lou Baldwin is a freelance writer and member of St. Leo Parish, Philadelphia.

A view of the physical therapy room at Mercy Health Center. (Sarah Webb)