Suburban residents with an illness or injury often don’t need to travel for emergency care anymore.
The care is coming to them.
In the continuing battle for patients, urban hospitals are opening full-service, satellite emergency departments — as well as other outpatient centers — in thriving suburban communities across Northeast Ohio.
Akron-based Summa Health System is joining the trend with the launch next month of its first satellite ER.
The 12-bed emergency department, scheduled to open Dec. 14, is attached to the Summa Health Center at Lake Medina, an outpatient facility that straddles Medina and Montville townships.
The multimillion dollar ER project features private rooms, easy access to adjacent radiology and laboratory services and interior waiting rooms for families and patients.
The ER will be staffed around-the-clock by the same board-certified emergency medicine physician group that works at Summa Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital, along with specially trained registered nurses and paramedics, said Chris Snow, nurse manager for the new emergency department.
The ER is expected to see between 10,000 and 12,000 patients a year from Medina, Medina Township, Montville Township and surrounding communities in Medina County, Snow said. A helipad is available for those with more serious illnesses and injuries who must be flown by medical helicopter to Summa Akron City Hospital.
“There are no restrictions,” she said. “We’re receiving ambulance traffic as well.”
The Medina project is the latest example of an urban hospital system opening satellite emergency departments and other outpatient centers in thriving suburban communities across Northeast Ohio.
As urban populations continue to decline, Akron and Cleveland hospitals increasingly are fighting for customers by opening facilities closer to patients’ suburban homes.
Experts have said the competition can provide patients with more choices while pushing hospitals to improve quality and access.
But they also warn that expanded and duplicated services can drive up the overall cost of medical care for businesses and government programs if those efforts result in patients getting more tests and procedures.
Earlier this year, the Cleveland Clinic and rival University Hospitals opened satellite ERs attached to their outpatient facilities in Twinsburg to serve Summit County’s northern tier.
Akron General Health System and Akron Children’s Hospital opened a full-service emergency department attached to the Akron General Health & Wellness Center in the Montrose area of Bath Township in 2009. It is less than nine miles away from Summa’s new ER in Medina.
Akron General also has operated the area’s first satellite emergency department, attached to its Akron General Health & Wellness Center-North in Stow, since 2007.
And a third Akron General satellite ER is expected to open in March, attached to another health and wellness center under construction in Green, where Summa is constructing a competing full-service emergency department scheduled to debut in midsummer.
The Stow emergency department is on track to see more than 20,000 patients this year, said Dr. Tim Stover, Akron General Health System’s president of outpatient services. The Bath Township location expects to treat more than 15,000 patients.
Patients typically are treated and released from Akron General’s satellite ERs in about two hours, compared with waits of 3› to four hours at the main campus, Stover said.
“It’s just more convenient,” he said. “It’s easier. The people are in and out. … Our customer satisfaction has been in the 99th percentile at all these facilities since the day we opened them.” The hospital, in turn, benefits from increased patient volume.
Stover estimates about 10 percent of the admissions at Akron General Medical Center come from the two suburban emergency departments.
Summa’s new satellite ERs are part of a $65 million investment the health system is making throughout the region to upgrade and add to its emergency services, including $43 million for an addition and renovation at City Hospital.
Work also is under way to expand Barberton Hospital’s emergency department at a cost of $17.3 million.
The goal is to coordinate and upgrade emergency services throughout the health system “so no matter where you come into our system, you’re going to get the right care,” said Dr. Michelle Blanda, physician service line director for emergency medicine and trauma at Summa Health System.
“We want to expand on our patient-focused care. We want to get the right care to the right patient at the right time.”
The first phase of City Hospital’s emergency department expansion — construction of a 45-bed unit — is expected to be complete mid-January, Blanda said. ER operations will move into the new facility while the old department is renovated to house trauma bays and 30 additional beds.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.