Memorial Medical Health University Medical Center’s proposed “freestanding emergency room” in South Bryan will have everything a hospital emergency room has except the hospital it’s usually attached to, Memorial Health’s top emergency department doctor said Wednesday. “It will be a fully functioning emergency department,” said Dr. Jay Goldstein, medical director for Memorial’s emergency services, noting the facility will be able to provide patients with everything from CT scans or X-rays to treatment for strokes, heart attacks or serious injuries.
It’s unclear when the project will get under way, though Goldstein said the hospital is looking at having it finished in within two years if the state approves it.
Savannah Medical Services LLC, apparently a part of HCA Healthcare, purchased 436 acres off Port Royal and Rabbit Hill Road in January for about $9 million and filed a certificate of need application with the state in February. An updated application said the project is expected to cost about $10 million.
The land was sold by Richmond Hill Property Acquisitions, Inc., a Florida- based company. It was valued last year at less than $2 million, according to county records.
The deadline for a decision on Memorial’s application is in June, according to the Georgia Department of Community Health website.
Such freestanding ERS are new to Georgia, but are allowed in other states, including South Carolina. The first in that state were built in 2019, according to online news stories.
The emergency rooms proposed in Richmond Hill and Pooler, as well as two others near Atlanta, will be the first in Georgia, if approved, Atlanta media has reported.
HCA, a for-profit company based in Nashville, bought Memorial for a reported $456 million in 2018. It also announced it is building an emergency room in Pooler.
Both South Bryan and Pooler are rapidly growing and have relatively high median incomes, according to various demographic studies.
Goldstein said the plan will save lives by allowing area patients to be seen sooner than they would if they had to be taken to the emergency room at Memorial, which is the third busiest in Georgia and sees an average of about 115,000 patients a year.
“In emergency medicine we talk about that golden hour where treatment, if it’s given soon enough, can save a life,” he said. “Those few minutes can make a difference, whether we’re talking about providing stroke care, trauma care or cardiac care.”
The doctor said the facility will have emergency room physicians and nurses on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is projected to have perhaps a dozen beds for emergency patients, who will either be treated and released or sent to hospitals if they require more care.
Memorial released a statement earlier this week.
As our communities grow, Memorial Health is making sure that our neighbors have access to emergency care where they live. That is why we have submitted two Certificate of Need applications to the State of Georgia for freestanding emergency rooms in Pooler and Richmond Hill.
The freestanding emergency rooms will be staffed 24/7, 365 days a year by board-certified emergency medicine physicians and nurses who are specially-trained to care for patients during a medical emergency. Each facility will be more than 12,000 square feet, have 12 beds (including one trauma bay) and will employ 32 staff members.
Both Pooler and Richmond Hill are experiencing tremendous growth, and these ERs will provide access to emergency care where it is needed.
Bryan County Commission Chairman Carter Infinger is quoted in the press release as well.
“Bryan County is excited to hear that Memorial Health has plans to build and open a freestanding emergency room in our community. This facility will benefit our residents in a multitude of ways, but most importantly by providing high quality medical care for those contending with medical emergencies requiring immediate attention.”
The hospital’s statement included this:
“These freestanding emergency rooms will function as satellite departments of Memorial Health, the region’s only Level 1 trauma center. They will provide on-site CT scans, X-rays, ultrasounds, include clinical laboratory services and will be staffed by clinicians trained to accept patients transported by EMS.”