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Med Express, the chain of urgent care clinics from Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group, has seen a lot of growth in recent years, but fell short of its stated goal of opening 19 locations in Minnesota by the end of 2017.

A search of the Med Express website last week showed 12 locations in the state, including one in Rochester that a company official said would be opening soon.

In an interview, a Med Express official didn't say exactly what happened to the other seven locations.

"Right now, we're sitting at a pretty good spot," said chief operating officer Kevin Ruffe, who didn't rule out new locations in the state in the future.

MedExpress is in the process of experimenting with new smaller-format clinics housed within pharmacies from Illinois-based Walgreens, including one store in the Minneapolis suburb of Hilltop.

When Med Express came to Minnesota in 2016, the company's first two urgent care centers were located in Eden Prairie and Plymouth -- two communities where Robbinsdale-based North Memorial Health had recently opened urgent care centers.

A search of the North Memorial website last week suggests the health system has closed those locations as part of a broader pull-back in the urgent care market. In September 2016, the health system said it had opened five urgent care clinics since 2011.

"In order to provide immediate, convenient care to our customers, North Memorial Health has focused, over the past year, on walk-in care at our primary care clinics," the health system said in a statement. "Where demand exists, we continue to offer urgent care and a higher level of urgent care at our Urgency Centers in Minnetonka and Blaine."

Urgent care centers offer outpatient care for acute and chronic illnesses and injury, often for patients who don't need an emergency room but also don't want to wait for an appointment at their regular clinic.

Since 2008, the number of urgent care facilities has grown from 8,000 to 9,300, according to the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine.

"The public's desire for immediate access to medical care has been the driving force behind this momumental growth," the group says.