SODDY-DAISY — Parkridge Health System's new freestanding emergency room in Soddy-Daisy is on track to open sometime in spring 2024, officials said during a groundbreaking event Friday.
The 11,000-square-foot facility, which will be near the Harrison Lane exit off U.S. Highway 27, will cost roughly $16 million to build and will be the first to offer 24/7 emergency medical care in North Hamilton County. It will house 12 beds, a trauma room, diagnostic capabilities and support services — including CT, X-ray, on-site laboratory, pharmacy and radiology support.
Because it's a "freestanding" emergency department, meaning not attached to a hospital able to admit patients, seriously ill or injured patients who need more specialized care must be transferred to another facility. A helipad will be on-site to allow for emergency air transportation.
While many patients are drawn to the convenience of freestanding emergency departments, research shows the facilities lead to higher health care spending and often treat conditions that could be handled in a primary care or urgent care setting.
Putting a freestanding ER in the area is "more important" than an urgent care, because the facility gives residents access to ER-trained physicians and staff, Parkridge CEO Chris Cosby said during Friday's event.
"You need to get to the closest ER you can when you're in an emergency, and that's what this is going to provide in this north part of the county," Cosby told reporters after the event.
The next closest emergency room is CHI Memorial-Hixson, which is a 9.5-mile drive — or roughly 20 minutes with moderate traffic — from Parkridge's Soddy-Daisy ER site.
Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp, who spoke at the event, said people who live and work in Chattanooga tend to forget that Hamilton County encompasses a geographically large area where emergency rooms aren't always easily accessible.
Parkridge Soddy-Daisy emergency room groundbreaking
While that's true for the area surrounding the new Parkridge facility, at the same time, Wamp said Soddy-Daisy represents one of the fastest-growing communities in the county.
The new facility will allow ambulances to get back in service quicker, because when EMS transports patients from around the Soddy-Daisy area, they will soon be able to be dropped off there, he said.
"Our emergency medical services, it's one of those extraordinary groups of public servants, but they're facing historic call volume. This facility changes the response time," Wamp said.
Parkridge opened Hamilton County's first free-standing emergency department, Parkridge North on Lee Highway, in October 2020.
Another Parkridge freestanding emergency department near Camp Jordan in East Ridge is slated to open in early October, a hospital spokesperson said.
Once the Soddy-Daisy facility is complete, patients will be able to access emergency medical care at 10 different locations across Hamilton County, assuming all current emergency rooms remain open.