BY THE NUMBERS
Erlanger East expansion
• 22,000 square feet
• 17 treatment rooms
• Six-bed clinical observation unit
• 80 specialists working in emergency care
• 15,000 estimated visits in first year
Source: Erlanger Health System
Erlanger Health System broke ground Tuesday on a $7.8 million expansion to Erlanger East in East Brainerd, the first full-service emergency department to serve East Hamilton County.
Erlanger spokeswoman Pat Charles said construction should be finished in six months.
The new facility will feature 17 treatment rooms and will provide services to patients of all ages, Erlanger President and CEO Charlesetta Woodard-Thompson said.
"We will be treating everything from sports injuries to major illnesses for children and adults," she said.
While the ER will be full service, it will not function as a trauma center, officials said, and those cases will continue to be treated at Erlanger's Baroness Campus on East Third Street.
Joe Winick, senior vice president of strategic planning, said Erlanger executives believe the expansion will capitalize on expected growth in the eastern part of the county.
"The population for the east service area is expected to grow at a rate significantly greater than that forecasted for Hamilton County or the 13-county region served by [Erlanger] through 2014," he said. "The Erlanger East campus is the logical site to deliver emergency medical care and other medical services to this growing population."
Winick estimates about 200,000 people currently live in the area served by Erlanger East, and expects that number to jump to about 214,000 by 2014.
Officials estimate about 15,000 people will visit the new emergency room during its first year. Charles said Erlanger's four existing ERs will have about 112,000 visits this fiscal year, an average of about 28,000 visits per location.
The addition of emergency services in East Brainerd will ease some of the congestion at other facilities, Woodard-Thompson said.
"They can have full-service right here," she said at the groundbreaking. "And downtown, this will help us cut our wait times. We can actually do our traumas there and do the rest of our functions at East and North."
The expansion at Erlanger East also can help Erlanger get back in the black, Woodard-Thompson said.
"It should help the bottom line," she said. "We are the safety net hospital. This last year, we did $91 million in uncompensated care. Well, we've got to make that up by having private services."
Erlanger is funding the expansion by selling medical office buildings around Erlanger East and leasing back the space, Woodard-Thompson said.
The Erlanger board of trustees initially approved the plan for the new emergency department in 2003.
Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6476.