Freestanding ER relieves hospital congestion

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Talk about good timing: MediCorp Health System opened a freestanding emergency room in Spotsylvania County in late October, just as emergency departments at its two Fredericksburg-area hospitals were swamped by swine flu patients.

“We always planned to open before winter in anticipation of the seasonal flu,” says Walter Kiwall, MediCorp’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We just didn’t know we’d have a second flu to deal with.”
Even without a pandemic, the new facility was sorely needed, Kiwall says, because of the fast-growing population around Fredericksburg.

“Demand for our services has increased 4 to 8 percent a year,” Kiwall says. Some of that demand is caused by Mary Washington Hospital’s new status as a trauma center. “We have a lot of volume going through our ERs.”

For example, the emergency department at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg saw 106,000 patients last year. The emergency room at Stafford Hospital Center, which opened in Stafford County in February, is on track to see 30,000 patients in its first 12 months.

The freestanding Emergency and Outpatient Center in Spotsylvania, located six miles west of Fredericksburg near Interstate 95, has the capacity to see up to 25,000 patients a year.

The 30,000-square-foot facility has 10 treatment bays, full imaging capabilities, an outpatient laboratory processing center and a staff of 30 emergency room physicians and nurses. But not all patients can be treated there, Kiwall notes. Those who need to be hospitalized would be routed to Mary Washington Hospital’s ER.

Nationally, the vast majority of emergency room patients, 80 to 90 percent, are treated and released. That is why a freestanding emergency room is a good addition in a rapidly growing area, Kiwall explains.
Spotsylvania County soon will have more medical facilities. HCA Virginia is building a 126-bed hospital, Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, which is scheduled to open next spring. The $175 million hospital will be near the intersection of I-95 and Route 17 near Massaponax.

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