Erlanger Health System plans to open two new medical facilities in Cleveland, Tennessee, hospital officials announced Wednesday.
The facilities will give Erlanger its first physical presence in Bradley County and better serve the significant number of patients currently traveling to Chattanooga from Bradley and neighboring Polk County for their health care, officials said.
"Annually, approximately 20,000 emergency room visits by Bradley and Polk County residents occur outside their counties," Matt Gibson, Erlanger's chief strategy officer, said in a news release. "It is apparent the residents of these two counties need more access to care, and we continue to see a need for Erlanger to provide medical services in these communities."
The move is part of Erlanger's strategy to expand medical care where it's needed across the region.
Erlanger's first Cleveland-based facility will include an urgent care center, primary care clinic, as well as a specialty clinic, pediatric specialty clinic and a physical therapy clinic for rehabilitation services. The medical building housing these services is located off Paul Huff Parkway at Holiday Inn Express Way NW, and is expected to open in November.
Erlanger plans to offer cardiology, orthopedics, urology and primary care services at the Cleveland medical office building, with other specialty services made available based on need.
A second Erlanger primary care office, slated to open early next year, will be located at the Village Green Town Center on Keith Street near downtown Cleveland.
The cost of the first facility will not exceed $1.9 million in capital, officials said, and details of the second project are still developing.
Joel Henderson, communications director at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, said Wednesday that the Chamber always welcomes new business to the community.
"The new facilities will provide additional medical services which would enhance and help the growing needs of our community," Henderson said.
Last summer, Erlanger submitted a bid to build a free-standing emergency department in Bradley County, but the request was denied by the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency.
Gibson said the latest projects were part of a separate plan that was already in the works and are not a substitution for an emergency department. However, he said having a "medical home" for primary care can help people manage their care more proactively, possibly preventing emergencies down the road.
Erlanger CEO Kevin Spiegel said urgent cares are additional access points that may help overcrowding in Chattanooga's emergency departments and reduce costs by addressing lower acuity needs in the counties where people already live.
"We're putting in urgent care centers in Bradley County to help access because that's more cost effective than having ambulances drive them here," Spiegel said.
Erlanger also recently opened three new urgent care centers in Hamilton County and a new primary care and urgent care center is scheduled to open next month in Hayesville, North Carolina.
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