January 20, 2021 by Peter B. Laird
Freestanding Emergency Rooms Connect Communities to Better Care
When you or a loved one experiences a medical emergency, every minute counts. Getting to the hospital emergency room quickly is essential. Now, patients have another option for emergency care, as health systems like Baptist Health South Florida open more freestanding emergency rooms in communities that don’t have a hospital nearby.
“Our freestanding emergency rooms are community-based ERs that are fully staffed by board-certified emergency medicine specialists 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” says Nancy Batista-Rodriguez, CEO of Baptist Outpatient Services. “They’re equipped with the latest emergency care and imaging technology, they have onsite labs to expedite crucial tests, and they’re regulated just like hospital ERs. The only difference is, they aren’t located on a hospital campus.”
Jose Llach, D.O., emergency physician at Baptist Health and lead physician for both Baptist Health Emergency Care centers – in West Miami-Dade and West Kendall – says that in addition to providing personalized, community-based emergency care, freestanding ERs are able to deliver lifesaving care even faster.
“We’ve saved the lives of many patients who were brought to our facility in critical condition, where time was of the essence,” Dr. Llach says. He notes that shorter runs also free paramedics up faster so they can respond to the next emergency. “And there’s always a next emergency,” he adds.
Dr. Llach says that patients at Baptist Health’s freestanding ERs have access to the same services and specialists available at many Baptist Health hospitals including cardiac, stroke, orthopedics and surgery. “And if your condition requires hospitalization, we’re able to provide direct admission to your room at the hospital.”
Baptist Health has opened two freestanding ERs in the past two years. The first, located in West Kendall adjacent to Miami Executive Airport, opened in 2019 and quickly became a valued resource for area residents, earning the highest Google rating – 4.5 out of 5 stars – of any emergency room in South Florida. A second is now open at 14591 Southwest 26th Street. Both facilities serve parts of western Miami-Dade County that have seen explosive growth in recent years but where residents’ emergency care options have been limited, according to Ms. Batista-Rodriguez.
“Our freestanding ERs are a valuable resource for area residents,” Ms. Batista-Rodriguez says. “Not only are there are thousands of families with young children living in West Miami-Dade, there is also a sizeable senior population. These are people who want and need quick, convenient access to the quality, compassionate care Baptist is known for. But now, rather than them coming to our hospitals for emergency care, we’re bringing our emergency rooms to them.”
Ms. Batista-Rodriguez says serious illness or injury can occur anywhere, at any time, and having an emergency room nearby offers area residents valuable peace of mind. “We hope we never have to see you, of course,” she says. “But if you do need us, our freestanding ERs can handle any type of emergency, from lacerations and broken bones to heart attacks, strokes and other life-threatening conditions.”
Convenience and ease of access are another advantage offered by freestanding ERs, Ms. Batista-Rodriguez says. “Patients can park in front and walk right in, without having to navigate big parking garages and mazes of hospital hallways.”
For those worried about safety amid the coronavirus pandemic, Ms. Batista-Rodriguez notes that Baptist Health’s Emergency Care centers – just like all of its hospitals, urgent care centers and other facilities – have stringent safety practices in place.
“We’re taking every possible precaution to protect the health of our patients and staff,” Ms. Batista-Rodriguez says. “This includes limiting the number of visitors and ensuring proper social distancing in our facilities; automated temperature screening at all entry points; requiring masks to be worn inside, and thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing our lobbies, waiting rooms, equipment and all high-touch surfaces throughout the day.”
If you should need emergency medical care, Ms. Batista-Rodriguez advises calling 911 or going to the emergency room immediately, as delayed care often leads to even bigger problems. “Don’t let COVID-19 deter you from getting the care you need,” she says. “Our ERs are safe and ready to care for you and your loved ones.”