Photo by Jon Anderson
Medical West Hoover ER 5-5-16
The Medical West freestanding emergency department in Hoover celebrated its one-year anniversary on May 5, 2016. The facility saw 15,738 patients its first year, officials said.
The Medical West freestanding emergency department in western Hoover today celebrated its first anniversary, noting nearly 16,000 patients served in a year’s time.
Keith Pennington, CEO of the Medical West hospital in Bessemer, said the emergency department in Hoover, which was the first freestanding emergency department to open in Alabama, has far exceeded expectations.
“We’ve had a very successful year,” Pennington said of the 24,342-square-foot facility in The Shoppes of Hoover shopping center at the corner of Interstate 459 and John Hawkins Parkway.
As of Wednesday night, the emergency department, a division of the UAB Health System, had seen 15,738 patients, Pennington said. About 1,500 of those were transferred to hospitals for further treatment, and more than 600 were admitted to Medical West in Bessemer, he said.
Photo by Jon Anderson
Keith Pennington 5-5-16
Medical West hospital CEO Keith Pennington talks about the first year of operation at the hospital's freestanding emergency department in Hoover, Alabama, on Thursday, May 5, 2016.
Surveys indicated 99 percent of the patients treated there were satisfied with their care, Pennington said.
Dr. Conrad De Los Santos, an emergency physician who is chief of staff at Medical West and one of 12 full-time doctors who rotate at the Hoover emergency department, said the facility in Hoover has seen patients with all kinds of conditions in the past year, from heart attacks and strokes to trauma injuries from vehicle accidents.
And, as with any emergency department, there have even been people come in with stubbed toes, De Los Santos said.
But, without a doubt, there have been patients treated there whose lives were saved because they had quick access to emergency medical care, he said.
“We greatly enjoy our presence here in Hoover. We feel that we’ve made a difference in the lives of the citizens of Hoover and the surrounding areas,” De Los Santos said. “We’re very happy and proud to be here in one year. We hope that one year, of course, will turn into 50 years and beyond … We are very dedicated to providing excellent emergency care and after care if you need to be admitted.”
While most of the patients treated at the Hoover emergency department come from nearby areas, some have come from other parts of the metro area. There have even been patients come from eastern Birmingham when other hospitals’ emergency rooms were too busy, De Los Santos said.
“They’ll pass by five, six, seven, eight hospitals to come here,” he said.
Strangely enough, some patients have even come to the freestanding Hoover emergency department from Tuscaloosa, he said.
Photo by Jon Anderson
Conrad De Los Santos 5-5-16
Dr. Conrad De Los Santos talks about the first year of operations at the Medical West freestanding emergency department in Hoover, Alabama, on Thursday, May 5, 2016.
The staff at the Medical West ER in Hoover is fully capable of handling delivery of babies and has come close to it on a couple of occasions, De Los Santos said. There was even one patient who did not know she was pregnant but came in with abdominal pains, he said. When they discovered the pregnancy, they transferred her to Medical West hospital, and she delivered a baby within an hour, he said.
Stand-alone ERs prefer to have baby deliveries done at the hospital, where there is a full neonatal intensive care unit available if needed, De Los Santos said.
Hoover fire Chief Chuck Wingate said the Medical West emergency facility has been a fantastic addition for the city. He likes the fact that the stand-alone center can do everything that most hospital-based emergency rooms can, only sooner because of the proximity.
And it is staffed with a board-certified emergency physician 24 hours a day, seven days a week, he said.
The Hoover Fire Department, which has its own transport units, has brought 50 patients to the Medical West stand-alone emergency department since it opened, said Capt. David Hambright, the Fire Department’s lead emergency medical services officer. Regional Paramedical Services has brought about 650 patients there, he said.
Monty Gooch, director of the Medical West freestanding emergency department, said the facility receives close to 100 patients by EMS vehicles each month. The rest come by private vehicle.
The $13.5 million facility has two trauma rooms, 10 exam rooms, a CT scan machine, X-ray machines, ultrasound equipment, a full-service laboratory and a helipad if patients need transfer to a hospital by helicopter.
So far, there has been no need to use the helipad, but it’s there if it is ever needed, Gooch said. Usually, it’s quicker to transfer patients by ambulance unless there is a severe traffic backup, De Los Santos said.
When the stand-alone emergency room opened, Medical West had hired 65 people to staff the facility, but as word has spread and demand has grown, there now are about 130 people on staff there, including about 65 patient care staff, Gooch said.
About 60 percent of the people who come to the emergency facility come with abdominal pain, shortness of breath or chest pain, Gooch said.
De Los Santos said people should treat it as an emergency room, not a primary care clinic or urgent care clinic, but as with any emergency department, there are patients who come with less than emergency needs.
The building does offer some non-emergency services, such as outpatient radiology services. There also are two orthopedic surgeons — Dr. Stephen Gould and Dr. Gaylon Rogers — who work there three days a week, and Dr. J.S. Shugrue is scheduled to open a new primary care practice in an attached clinic on Aug. 29.
Pennington said the emergency facility and equipment in it are great, but what is most important is the quality staff inside who provide quality care.
De Los Santos said the support shown by Hoover officials has been great, but he would love to see the city allow better signage to help people find the emergency center easier. Some patients have driven by the entrance road three times without seeing the sign, he said.
The emergency department is right next to the Sprouts grocery store off John Hawkins Parkway, at 5300 Medford Drive.