Having to have a blood test doesn't mean being late for work any more.

St. Luke's Urgent Care Center at 1104 North St. in Jim Thorpe has expanded its hours for blood testing. The center will now be open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Before the change, the tests were performed from 7:30 a.m. to early afternoon.

The expanded hours meant a 90-day cross-training course for office and clinical staff, enabling more people to perform more tasks and perform them more efficiently, said St. Luke's administrative director Ralph Richards.

"We had to cross train people to not only know how to draw the blood, but to be able to process your insurance," he said.

Hospital spokeswoman Andrea Visnosky said that before, only a phlebotomist drew blood. Now, other trained medical staff also perform the task. "That's how we can now offer them all day," she said.

Richards said the center also has a "medical assistant, a licensed practical nurse and two registered nurses who are all proficient in drawing blood. RNs always did blood; they just didn't draw blood at Urgent care because we only had one individual doing it."

Now, pending the hire of yet another person, six well-trained staff will be available for blood work. The center also offers x-rays and other lab work.

The center's urgent care hours remain 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.

No blood work is done on Sundays.

The expanded hours was prompted by patients.

"People have told us that 'If I have to fast all night, it's better to let me come at 6:30 than 8 o'clock because I can get back home and eat breakfast' before going to work,'" Richards said. "We listen to the people in the community."

St. Luke's Urgent Care Center in Jim Thorpe opened in 2003 and serves about 13,000 a year, Richards said.

The center – staffed by what Richards called his "Dream Team" of doctors Elizabeth Perilli and Joseph Spadoni – is for people who have a medical problem, but one that is not life-threatening.

Coming to an urgent care center is less expensive than going to an emergency room for such problems as a sprained ankle, hurt back, sore throat or other non-life threatening ailment, Richards said.

The center is not for people who have chest pains, shortness of breath, stab wounds, or think they may be having a stroke or heart attack; they need to immediately call 911.