Northfield Urgent Care closed its doors permanently July 1 after serving the community for 12 years citing a prolonged business decline.
Owner Dr. Kevin Bardwell said patient numbers dropped and the urgent care clinic business saw a 70 percent drop after COVID-19 came along.
The decline traffic was for a prolonged time and not just for one or two months, Bardwell said.
The pandemic did not help when businesses were closed, but the final decision to close was made during the past six months, he said.
“Even though business got better this past winter, we did not see an improvement in our patient volume, and it was not enough to sustain us and so unfortunately we had to close,” Bardwell said.
The clinic employed 15 staff who worked full-time, part-time and periodically. Located south of Hwy. 3 in Northfield, the clinic opened in 2009 to provide Northfield a convenient place to seek urgent care and quick medical attention. In recent years, the urgent care industry has evolved quite a bit, Bardwell said, as more options entered the competitive business, including minute clinics at area pharmacies.
“There are also a high number of family medical providers in Northfield, more than you would normally see for a population the size of Northfield,” he said.
As an urgent care clinic, Bardwell treated patients with same day, acute injuries or illnesses, but the site specialized in providing occupational DOT (Department of Transportation) physicals and drug screenings.
“Most urgent care clinics can manage 95 percent of what walks in the door and do not need to send the patient elsewhere,” Bardwell said.
Feeling grateful the Northfield community supported the family-owned business for so many years, Bardwell said he and his wife Kim loved all the relationships they built in the close-knit community.
“It was a difficult decision and we stayed open for as long as we could and we wanted to give it a chance,” he said
Deciding to pursue a career in urgent care has allowed Bardwell to be a doctor and be able to raise a family while working regular daytime hours, in lieu of working around the clock or being on call at night.
Influenced and encouraged to work in medicine by his mother who worked as a registered nurse, Bardwell, 56, said he has been rewarded as a doctor and has devoted his career to caring for patients in Minnesota via urgent care area for many communities and health systems, including Northfield, Mayo Clinic, an Apple Valley urgent care, Allina and in Mankato.
The Bardwell couple was happy to call Northfield home for 26 years and they raised four children who graduated from Northfield schools; each were highly engaged and involved in school, community activities and sports.
“We loved Northfield and now we are empty nesters and we made the move,” he said.
Today Bardwell practices urgent care for Essentia Health full-time for the Baxter Brainerd communities.
The family will maintain strong friendships in the Northfield area, and plan to visit since they have family who reside in southern Minnesota.
“We want to thank the Northfield community for the patronage for the past 12 years in business,” Bardwell said, adding it was a personal pleasure to care and get to know residents and families.