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Everyone knows the feeling; a bad earache or a nasty sinus cold that needs treatment sooner than later. The problem is, the doctor's office is booked for the day, and things aren't so serious as to warrant a long trip to the emergency room.

For Sherwood residents, there's now a solution right around the corner.

Sherwood Urgent Care opened January 5 in the Key Bank building at the intersection of Highway 99W and SW Sherwood Boulevard. The clinic, run by Dr. James Matthews and his staff, caters specifically to patients with non-life-threatening emergencies who might not be able to make it to the doctor's office, but aren't looking for the long and sometimes expensive trip to an emergency room in a hospital outside of Sherwood.

"You don't have to drive to the hospital. You can come into a place like this and it's more comfortable," Matthews explained, "and we can generally see them a lot quicker because we're not dealing with life-threatening injuries."

Another advantage is sometimes cost, according to office manager Andrea Volk. Sherwood Urgent Care offers co-pays that are closer to those required for primary care visits, while emergency room visits will often cost a $100 to $150 minimum. The clinic also has contracts with most insurance companies. They also take self-pay or private-pay patients.

While the clinic takes care of a lot of general medical problems, they're capable of much more; they can deal with fractures and stitches and have a small lab. They can run common tests administered in hospitals or doctors' offices, and prescribe medicine.

"We might treat somebody who's visiting from out of town and runs out of their blood pressure medicine," Matthews said.

Matthews grew up in Lake Oswego and went to medical school at Oregon Health and Science University. He's also operated an urgent care clinic in Newberg for 11 years, so he has close ties to the area. But opening in Sherwood was at least partially a strategic choice based on the growth and changing demographic in the area.

"There are a lot of younger families and there are also a lot of people moving into the community who don't have an established physician yet," he said.

Newberg, in contrast, was a little older and established when he started his clinic there in the 1990s. Matthews said it took him a little longer to establish the clinic, and explain to people what it did, especially since urgent care facilities are more prominent in metropolitan areas. "As time goes by people realize who we are and how we can help them. We're not the ER."

Matthews has been working in urgent care facilities for 17 years, and he likes the unique dynamic.

"It's similar to general practice in that you see a broad variety of problems," he said. "It's also similar to surgery in that you can make a difference over a relatively short period of time."

Several other doctors also work at the clinic with Matthews.

Sherwood Urgent Care is open six days a week, and closed on Sundays. The clinic can be reached at 503-625-4100.

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