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Va. hospital system opens new ED for expanding city

Emergency Department at Harrison Crossing was opened to met the growing Fredericksburg population

By Cathy Dyson
The Free Lance-Star

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — As the population in the Fredericksburg area expands, so does the need for medical facilities, especially along the busy State Route 3 corridor west of the city.

On Wednesday, community leaders, fire and rescue officials and healthcare workers gathered as Mary Washington Healthcare officials cut the ribbon for the new Emergency Department at Harrison Crossing.

“Our region is growing like crazy, you guys,” Susan Spears, CEO of the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, told the crowd. “If you don’t know this, there’s over 400,000 in our population today. So when you look at us having the fourth emergency department for Mary Washington Healthcare, it’s mirroring the population growth.”

MWHC has emergency departments at Mary Washington Hospital, Stafford Hospital and stand-alone units at Lee’s Hill and Harrison Crossing.

The Harrison Crossing facility is off Route 3, between Gordon Road and the shopping center of the same name. The emergency department is on one side of the brick building and the newly opened Medical Imaging at Harrison Crossing is on the other.

The facility totals 22,500 square feet and represents a $25 million investment, according to MWHC. The total includes construction costs as well as medical equipment including CT scans, MRIs, mammography and DEXA scans for bone density.

Medical Imaging practices are a partnership between MWHC and Fredericksburg Radiologic Associates, and the Harrison Crossing site is the seventh such in the region.

The new Emergency Department is scheduled to open on Monday, but the Medical Imaging facility started seeing patients, by appointment, on Jan. 23 . It served more than 400 people in seven business days, said Lori Szweda, vice president of the radiologic group.

“It’s an exciting time,” said Dr. Mike McDermott, president and CEO of MWHC. “I can feel the excitement in the air.”

Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center officials shared similar sentiments almost a year ago when they opened their second emergency department in the area, Fredericksburg ER on Route 3 West. That stand-alone emergency room is less than a mile from the new one at Harrison Crossing.

The Fredericksburg ER “has treated more patients than originally expected, which speaks to our community’s need to have care close to home,” said E. Pryor Green, a media relations director with HCA Healthcare.

She didn’t specify an exact number of patients being treated. At last February’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center CEO Ryan DeWeese said the new emergency department could handle up to 80 patients a day, at capacity.

In a fast-growing area such as long the Route 3 corridor of Spotsylvania — and Orange and Culpeper counties beyond it —more “points of access” are needed, said Chief Jay Cullinan of Spotsylvania Fire, Rescue & Emergency Management.

“When you start looking at the wait times in the emergency rooms at both Mary Washington Hospital and Spotsylvania Regional, I think it’s obvious that we need more points of access to the community for that type of health care,” Cullinan said.

Patients suffering from more serious emergencies such as stroke, trauma or heart attack will need to be transported to hospitals with corresponding centers. But those with “lower acuity” issues such as fractures or nosebleeds, fever or respiratory issues should be able to choose which ED they want, said Christina Rauch, EMS coordinator for MWHC.

“It’s important to the community to have choices,” she said.

The side of the new Harrison Crossing building that fronts Route 3 is actually the back of the building. That’s where ambulances will enter a pull-through lane to unload patients, Rauch said. Other hospitals have bays where squads back in to unload, but she said pull-through lanes seem to be trending in new facilities.

Patients who walk into the Emergency Department at Harrison Crossing, and don’t have a condition that requires isolation, will be evaluated in a rapid treatment area, said Justin Richardson, nurse manager. There are recliners in this area, separated into four “rooms” by curtains.

Tests and bloodwork can be done here, then patients can move to an open, internal waiting room as results are processed. Medical providers easily can see them, and if anyone’s condition changes, patients can be moved into one of the eight treatment rooms.

When their test results come back, patients also can go into one of the rooms to discuss them with a provider.

The point of the rapid treatment area is to “get people in front of the doctor fast and get treatment started,” Richardson said, to avoid the hours of waiting often associated with an emergency department visit.

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