Total Access Urgent Care president explains why they’re now not coming to Maplewood

When Total Access Urgent Care backed out of its plan to come to Maplewood at a former car lot, Maplewood Mayor Barry Greenberg explained his view of the decision, and described a conversation he had with the company’s president, Dr. Matthew Bruckel.

Bruckel, though, wasn’t asked for his view — why his company decided not to come to Maplewood after all. He wasn’t happy about that.

See also: Urgent care is out on Maplewood lot; it’s to be a car lot again

He saw the article as negative to his company, and gave his phone number in a comment on the article so he could give his side. He did that in a phone call on Friday.

From Dr. Matthew Bruckel:

We want to be a positive force for change in America and do a great job, and we certainly are not perfect but we also don’t want an article to be published, which on first reading, gave a perception of negativity, and I’m sure that ’s not what you intended.

Our effort and and our initiative to come to Maplewood were true and genuine, and it really came down to the basics of a, I believe, a bureaucratic decision that was not based in reality.

So the city of Maplewood has a sign ordinance that — I’m a doctor, so I’m no expert at sign bureaucracy — but my understanding of their sign ordinance is that if you’re on the corner that you’re allowed to have signage on the main street and the side street.

So our building location, the lot we were going to buy, had two streets, had Manchester and a side street, which I can’t remember now. And the little side street was opposite the direction of the main street that we really wanted to advertise on, which is Big Bend and Manchester.

So 90 percent of our patients are coming from Big Bend and Manchester, and the city of Maplewood has an ordinance that prohibits you from having signage on Big Bend, and it doesn’t  make sense to me.

So why would a city say to us, we are prohibited from advertising on the street that most of our patients are coming from?

The goal was to have a building that has good signage. And we want a business that has signage that faces toward the streets that has the volume of patients that are coming to us….

They said we could have signage on two sides, but the only two sides can have signs on are the main street, Manchester, and the side street, which faces nobody. Nobody is going to see it.

So we said, OK, let’s come up with a compromise. We said we will rotate the building 45 degrees, where the point of the building will point Manchester, and then we’ll have signage basically on two sides of Manchester, basically facing southeast and southwest. And they said no it’s not allowed. And we said we’d like signage on the building side that faces Big Bend, they said no that’s not allowed.

So literally we would have a building that has no signage on Big Bend, and meanwhile CVS, whose on the corner, has eight signs. And we are just asking for two signs. That’s it.

So I don’t think it’s about Bruckel ‘wanting his toys or leave.’ It’s about Bruckel wanting reasonable signage…. If I’m going to put two and half million into a project that is either going to generate enough patients to break even or not, it shouldn’t be the question of do we have enough signage to make it profitable…

I run a business that’s very forward thinking, I don’t run a city. And I don’t pretend that I have the knowledge how cities operate. And I get the fact that they have to have one rule for all players, but the fact that we decided that the city sign ordinance was not going to be successful for us doesn’t mean that we should get a black eye in the community.

We’re just trying to run a business. We’re trying to have a business that’s successful, and if we have a business that has good signage and it’s successful, great, and if we have a business that is prohibited from having appropriate signage, and is unsuccessful, I don’t want to be in a position where I blame the city because they’re not going to take fault. It’s my fault.

I’m an honest, straight-forward speaking guy. A lot of people don’t like what I have to say. But what I speak is my reality, and I think my reality makes sense. And to have a conversation with a city, that instead of talking with individuals that are reasonable people, we’re talking about the bureaucracy of sign ordinances. You can’t have commonsense conversations with bureaucracy.

I love Maplewood. Maplewood is a fantastic town. The corner of Big Bend and Manchester is a phenomenal corner. We would love to be there. I get that some of the traditionalists don’t want us there because they think our signage is too bright, or too blue, or too red, or too… but it’s America. It’s red, white and blue. It’s us.

And the services we provide are fantastic. In fact, we only hire nice people. And if our doctor and our staff and our front desk people are not nice to patients, then I actually help them find a job with our competition.

We want to be in every community. We want to be a presence everywhere, and just because we come into a situation where we run into an ordinance, or a rule, or obstacle that doesn’t work we shouldn’t get a black eye. We should be commended for attempting to come into a neighborhood. We should be commended for trying to trying to break down barriers. We should be commended for trying to change the healthcare landscape and the healthcare delivery system, but instead, all we get is a negative article about we’re self-righteous and pompous about, well, we’re just going to take our toys and go somewhere else.

We’re real people. We’re genuine people and we really want to make a difference. And I’m sure the mayor didn’t intend to be snarky with his comments. This is not a contest. It’s a negotiation for people trying to make the world a better place, and it’s not always going to be possible in every community.

Their rules are very black and white, and we get it. I was a commander in the United States Navy. I understand rules. I understand ordinances. I understand situations where you have a situation where you cannot make an exception for an individual business in order to maximize your potential for success buy giving them the signage that they want, that’s fine. And it’s our right and our prerogative to say, OK, so it’s not going to work out, but then they shouldn’t pooh-pooh us for that.

If they really want us in the neighborhood, they should say, let’s change the sign ordinance so that it makes sense for businesses to be successful and prosper. Or let’s acknowledge and accept the fact that our our sign ordinance is not something that they want to deal with.

Everything does not work for everyone. I think every town, including Maplewood, wants to have the right bank in their town, wants to have the right grocery stores in their town, wants to have the right doctors offices in their town, and I think that our request is very reasonable.

If we’re going to be relatively on a corner, or close to a corner, let us show the signage of our business on the busy traffic side of the corner.

If they’re willing to change it, we’ll come back. This is not a dead deal. We’re open to success in the future. We’re open to reasonable people making reasonable decisions and improving the success of these decisions going forward.

So we want to grow and we want to be in Maplewood. We certainly want to find the right corner in Maplewood, but we don’t want to be in a situation that is a marketing detriment, where we’re like, ‘wow, we really wish our patients on Big Bend could see us.’…

21 thoughts on “Total Access Urgent Care president explains why they’re now not coming to Maplewood

  1. Why not consider Deer Creek Center or the former McDonald’s location on Big Bend? Lots of visibility and traffic on Big Bend and Hanley Road. Also loads of parking.

  2. One of the things I’ve heard is that people like Maplewood is because they are able to walk to restaurants, shops and grocery stores. Having Total Access Urgent Care in walking distance would fit that desire. I’ve used them several times and find them to be excellent. The other urgent cares have more bad reviews than good. It’s too bad the city wouldn’t work with them.

    • I understand some people do not have vehicles. But there is a TAUC 1 1/2 miles up Manchester in Rock Hill. There is also another TAUC being built right now a mile away at Clayton and Big Bend. There’s another brand urgent care being built in the former shoe store/mattress store spots in front of Wal Mart. There’s another TAUC not far away at Hampton and 44. There’s also an urgent care in the big strip for mall along Manchester in Dogtown. There are also doctors and a full emergency room not far away at St. Mary’s Hospital. Or someone can take the Metrolink blue line from Maplewood to the world class Washington University medical center.

      I am not enthused at all by a used car lot. But can we stop acting like Maplewood has an issue with access to health care?

  3. The owner of the urgent care and I both do not know how the city runs. We both admit it. With that being said I wonder if the conversation with the Mayor is the right person to discuss this matter with. I am under the impression that there is a commission on such design issues, an attorney to run things by as well as a way to appeal the issue. Would the outcome be the same? Maybe. I don’t know, but maybe he needed to talk to someone else.

    As far as the size of the lot, I agree I did not think it was large enough, and traffic there is always a mess. Maybe more so with the construction that seems to never end at that area.

  4. I voted for Barry in the last election but at this point I think he was childish in that response. I’ve always had a great experience with TAUC. Sad to see us lose the tax revenue over what sounds like an interpretation of the code.

  5. Kind of glad they decided not to come to Maplewood. They don’t even accept Medicaid one of the many forms of health insurance a lot of residents have especially for their children.

  6. Very well put Dr. Bruckel, thank you for your service in the Navy. I met you a couple of times when my boys were younger and got hurt a lot and you were a new concept in Rock Hill. I think Urgent Care’s are awesome. Yes, Mark J., there is that much demand. Even the insurance companies tell you to not to go to an ER if Urgent Care will do. Why would you want to go to the ER anyway, the gunshot victims always get to go before you, it’s not fair. I would think and hope that a progressive city like Maplewood would want decent signage to an Urgent Care, just like a hospital sign, the Blue H, we are all familiar with on the roads. Since Urgent Cares came to be, I went to a non-TAUC in Fenton once and it was and it was not a pleasant experience, never a bad experience at TAUC.

  7. I would like to talk to Dr. Brukel about the care he provides. The staff was so slip shod in how they treated my husband last year that they almost killed him.
    On my Doctor’s urging I took my husband to the E R and he was hospitalized for several days. The attending Doctor at the E. R. could not understand why the Dr. at TAUC did not refer us immediately to the hospital.
    It was so bad that our regular Doctor actually called and lodged a complaint against the Dr. who saw my husband. Our Doctor told us never to go back there.

  8. Sign ordinances are written to prevent neighborhoods from becoming hideous and cluttered with signs going in every direction. The ordinance doesn’t dictate no signage on Big Bend. It dictates that only businesses that actually face Big Bend can have signage facing that road. This prevents businesses from erecting signage that faces a main artery from behind existing businesses, something you’re more likely to see around Lindbergh and I-55. The TAUC would have been behind the White Castle and facing Manchester, not actually on Big Bend. All TAUC offered was to turn the building 45 degrees, after they were offered suggestions that would have complied with code. The city was not being capricious; they were following the law. For example, the Raising Cane’s on the southwest corner wanted a huge pole sign, but they reached a compromise with the city and went with a smaller design, and now they are open and doing great in our fair city. When people say how much they like look of Maplewood compared with other parts of the county, the sign ordinances have a great deal to do with that.
    That said, it’s a shame that the mayor chose to use the press to characterize the TAUC owners as being childish. He should choose his words more carefully.

  9. I love TAUC. I have never had a bad experience there. I don’t know why we wouldn’t want a good company that provides a valuable service in our community.

  10. I have a large lot at comfort & big bend, that faces big bend. You can see it from Manchester. I believe you can have larger poll sign. About twenty five thousand cars drive by on big bend a day. It’s larger then the lot you was going to buy. Let me know if you are interested.

  11. I would like to know why he feels that Maplewood area must be saturated with so many urgent care facilities. Is there really the demand in the area? Why start building in Maplewood before the Richmond Heights TAUC is even open?

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