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Strong West conversion to ED approved by state health officials

Rochester Business Journal
August 18, 2014

State officials have green-lighted Strong West’s conversion from an urgent care center to a freestanding emergency department, University of Rochester Medical Center officials said Monday.

Formerly Lakeside Memorial Hospital, Strong West was acquired by UR and converted to an urgent care center in June 2013 shortly after the financially strapped Brockport hospital shut down. UR Medicine opened a same-day surgery center at the West Avenue facility in February. 

Beginning with Strong West’s official kickoff as an ED at 8 a.m. tomorrow, the facility will provide 24-hour care. And as an ED, Strong West will be able to treat patients brought in by ambulance and can handle more serious cases.

Patients treated for the kind of minor injuries and illnesses the facility has handled since opening as Strong West would be hit with charges and co-pays hundreds of dollars higher than they would have incurred as urgent-care patients, however.

As an ED, Strong West will send most patients requiring hospitalization to UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial or Highland hospitals. 

Officials anticipate that Strong West patients assigned to the freestanding Brockport ED’s three observation beds would be discharged or sent to Strong or Highland in 24 hours or less, Strong and Highland chief operating officer Kathleen Parrinello previously told the Rochester Business Journal.

EDs separated from their parent hospitals are a relatively new phenomenon in New York. Strong West will be the first to open in Upstate New York, UR Medicine officials said.

The state’s Department of Health took more than a year to study and debate URMC’s proposal to turn Strong West into a freestanding ED before approving the conversion.

An earlier department study found that such facilities have worked well in other states but also had downsides.

The study listed higher costs and the likelihood that patients’ unfamiliarity with the differences between urgent care and ED treatment would cause confusion and subject some to unnecessarily higher bills among possible downsides.

Possible upsides were availability of 24-hour care and the likelihood that increased availability of ED services would cut congestion and shorten wait times at parent hospitals.
    
(c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail service@rbj.net.


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