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How a freestanding emergency center could benefit you in a post-disaster situation

Sept. 27, 2017 at 10:31 a.m.
Updated Sept. 27, 2017 at 10:31 a.m.

Natural disasters are a fact of life for many Americans, from the Gulf Coast to the Upper Midwest. As the frequency and severity of extreme climatic events increases, understanding the range of care providers available to you is becoming ever more important to keep you and your family safe during these difficult times. Freestanding emergency centers (FECs) provide the level of quality, service and access offered by regular hospital ER — excepting trauma care — without many of the drawbacks that could make a critical difference in a post-disaster situation.

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An FEC in Cypress, TX (image via First Choice Emergency Room)

Little to no wait time

Every second counts in an emergency. In 2013 the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the average patient wait time in a hospital-based ER was 30 minutes[1]. Patients are prioritized according to the severity of their injuries, and in a post-disaster situation this can see wait times skyrocket. If injuries that are commonly caused by disaster events — such as deep lacerations and crush impact — are left untreated, the risk of complications such as infection and sepsis increases dramatically. FECs have substantially lower wait times than hospital-based ERs and incoming patients can be seen by an ER physician immediately, saving precious seconds that could make all the difference.

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Avoid busy waiting rooms in FECs (image via Paul Beaty/AP)

Freestanding emergency centers treat all patients

In the event of a major disaster, the last thing on your mind is what level of cover your health insurance provides. FECs are legally required to treat all patients regardless of their health cover, including Medicare, Medicaid, and those without insurance — just as a hospital-based ER would. FECs take pride in helping all members of their communities, and are open to all those who need assistance when a disaster strikes.

At the heart of the local community

Studies have shown that as the distance between patient and healthcare provider increases, so does the risk of mortality[2]. In a post-disaster situation where roads may be blocked, broken or flooded, your chances of being stranded and unable to reach the nearest hospital will also increase with distance. FECs take emergency medicine out of the hospital and into the communities that need it, so you know the help you need is only a few blocks away.

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Reducing the risk of patients being cut off from medical facilities (image via Rosenberg PD)

Open-door policy

Disasters don't always arrive at convenient times. FECs are open 24/7 with fully-staffed lab and imaging services, and ER-trained physicians on-hand at all times to attend to your needs. Disaster situations can evolve quickly, and FECs are able to provide treatment at the moment injury occurs — which means you and your family can get the care you need, exactly when you need it.

  1. Rui P, Kang K, Albert M. National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2013 Emergency Department Summary Tables. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ahcd/nhamcs_emergency/2013_ed_web_tables.pdf
  2. Nicholl, J., West, J., Goodacre, S., Turner, J., 2007. The relationship between distance to hospital and patient mortality in emergencies: an observational study. Emergency Medical Journal, 24 (9): pp. 665 – 668.

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