“I’m just glad to be alive,” said Bill Williams.
As he rummaged through the debris left by Hurricane Matthew, Williams began to feel odd. He and his wife, Diane, were in the process of evacuating to Tallahassee while the storm passed their home in Cocoa, Florida. However, agony overcame him about halfway into the drive. Bill and Diane stopped in Williston, where they took an ambulance to the North Florida Regional Medical Center (NFRMC.)
Fortunately, NFRMC takes great pride in its low wait times for emergency patients. Seeing over 70,000 visits in 2016 alone, NFRMC’s Emergency Department is seldom idle. Still, its 8-minute average wait time is a staple for which the hospital is recognized. To keep providing quality health care to the Gainesville community, the hospital is expanding its emergency care with the opening of a 24/7 full-service, freestanding emergency department in West Gainesville.
Freestanding emergency rooms have become a trend throughout the country. While there are many benefits, the main one is providing people with immediate care when it is most needed by establishing convenient locations. The North Florida Regional Freestanding ER West End will not only serve the Gainesville area but also Chiefland, High Springs, Trenton and surrounding areas, saving those communities the commute to NFRMC’s current location.
“We are excited to be able to open doors to more members of the community,” said Victoria Sullivan, director of emergency services at NFRMC. “We look forward to providing our west end patients with the quality care and customer service that they deserve.”
Opening the freestanding ER is part of a continuing trend for NFRMC. Since the founding in 1973 with nothing but a four-floor facility and a world of possibilities lying in the connecting cow pasture, the hospital has grown immensely.
The $10.5 million project located at the southwest corner of West Newberry Road and 122nd Street — also called Parker Road — will create an 11,200-square-foot, one-story facility. The freestanding ER features 10 emergency rooms and employs approximately 35 full-time healthcare professionals. It expects to serve over 12,000 patients a year.
“A large percentage of our ER patients make their way to us from West Gainesville,” said Brian Cook, president and CEO of NFRMC. “With the significant growth we have seen in the area in the past few years, we want to provide those patients closer access to quick and more efficient quality health care.”
North Florida’s freestanding ER is set to open April 10, 2017. The family-friendly open house event — broadcasted by KISS 105.3 — will be on Saturday, April 8, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will feature games, prizes and giveaways. The public is invited to enjoy complimentary hors d’oeuvres and beverages from local Gainesville restaurants. Children will also be able to view and tour emergency medical service vehicles and play doctor as they accompany a teddy bear — a complimentary gift from the hospital — through the ER process, giving them the opportunity to experience ER procedures firsthand.
The addition is equipped to handle a full range of capabilities — from pediatric to adult care. Features include a full service lab, a 64-Slice low-dose CT scanner, a trauma room, ultrasound and digital radiographic x-ray technology, among others. Although the priority when designing the facility was to continue to provide extraordinary emergency care and patient experience, the investment also serves as a recruiting tool to attract highly qualified emergency medicine physicians, who are crucial not only to the patients themselves but also to the hospital’s future.
“Our west end facility will be able to treat a wide range of patients, from pediatric to adult care,” said Jack Stout, manager of the North Florida Regional Freestanding ER West End. “Our goal is to care for our patients from the surrounding areas efficiently and with little to no wait time.”
As for Bill, who discovered that it was his gall bladder that had been causing him trouble, it was his 1-minute wait time and the experienced team of ER professionals at North Florida Regional that saved his life.
“The service and care that I received at North Florida Regional Medical Center was superb,” said Williams. “I felt like a weight had been lifted from my body.”