Lufkin's 1st freestanding emergency room opens; employees discuss healthcare trend

Lufkin's 1st freestanding emergency room opens; employees discuss healthcare trend
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The brand-new Lufkin Emergency Room has opened its doors. It's the very first freestanding emergency room in the city. Their motto is "get in and get out."

Employees discussed the rising number of freestanding emergency rooms and the kind of impact this one will have in Angelina County.

The paint is still fresh in the brand new Lufkin Emergency Room conveniently nestled near one of Lufkin's communities off  of59.

"It's been a year and a half from the idea until the point where we were opened yesterday," said Amanda Blank, director of nursing.

"We just want to invite everyone in the community to come in and tour our wonderful facility," said Briana Harkness, Marketing Director of Lufkin ER.

It's not only a new facility, but the first of its kind in Lufkin. Freestanding emergency rooms are a progression according to the Texas Association of Health Plans. The number of them has doubled in 45 states within the past decade.

"Healthcare is changing, and as it changes, we change with it and adapt. That's the trend and the way it's going," Blank said.

The most essential benefit the Lufkin ER will possess is lower wait times.

"Typically, with freestanding ER's, we aren't as busy as traditional ER's. We don't see as many patients. We have a lower volume of patients," Blank said.

That's followed by access to the same equipment used in what they refer to as a traditional ER.

"We're fully equipped just like a traditional ER. We can treat anything from minor emergencies like cough, cold, congestion, all the way up to major traumas," Blank said.

That includes CT scans, ultrasounds, and radiology. Blank explained that there are differences between Lufkin's Urgent Care facilities and the freestanding emergency room.

"Urgent care provides urgent care. Freestanding provides emergency care. We have a lot of drugs that they don't typically have," Blank said.

That goes along with being opened 24 hours. CHI St. Luke's Health's chief operating officers said the freestanding clinic will be a benefit to hospitals as well.

"The new free-standing ERs will create additional access points for emergency room care," said Shawn Barnett, CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial Market COO and Lufkin president. "We fully expect that some less acute levels of emergency room care will be shifted away from the hospitals. However, this shift in patients allows hospital-based emergency rooms to increase their capacity for critical patients who present with more serious or urgent conditions."

"We've actually had a few patients. One last night and a couple today, and they had a wonderful experience," Harkness said.

It's an experience that's becoming more and more common in East Texas as healthcare trends shift.

"We are so glad that we're providing a wonderful care and experience for the community!" Harkness said.

The Lufkin ER is having an official grand opening on April 19th at 10 a.m. They are welcoming the public to join them.

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