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Ensign Group joint venture buys Doctors Express

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. (AP) -- The Ensign Group Inc.'s joint venture Immediate Clinic LLC has purchased urgent care franchise system Doctors Express.

Terms were not disclosed.

"The combination of the Doctors Express franchise system with Immediate Clinic's company-owned walk-in clinics broadens our reach into the urgent care business," Ensign President and CEO Christopher Christensen said in a statement on Monday.

Doctors Express and Immediate Clinic's walk-in centers will offer daily access to health care for minor injuries and illnesses, including X-ray and lab services. No appointment is needed.

Doctors Express, founded in Baltimore in 2005, will keep its name and be run by an Immediate Clinic subsidiary. It currently runs 49 franchised urgent care centers. An additional 85 centers are under contract and expected to be in operation by the end of the year.

Immediate Clinic is expected to open its first company-owned facilities within 2012's second quarter.

Urgent care operations are expected to add to Ensign's earnings in 2013.

The Ensign Group, which runs nursing homes and assisted living centers, is based in Mission Viejo, Calif. Immediate Clinic started in early 2012 so that Ensign could add routine physician services to the sub-acute, skilled nursing, physical therapy, home health, hospice, assisted living and other services that its businesses provide.