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Valley Health System opens emergency room in southwest Las Vegas

The Valley Health System has a new freestanding emergency department — its second in the Las Vegas Valley — in the quickly growing Enterprise area.

ER at Blue Diamond opened to patients Sept. 30 on South Cimarron Road. It’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Emergency department officials say the facility brings care closer to residents and provides a more timely response for life-threatening conditions such as a heart attack or stroke.

“Really, this area of the community didn’t have anything with this level of care,” said Kevin Scott, manager of ER at Blue Diamond.

The Valley Health System broke ground on the 11,135-square-foot facility in September 2018. It’s an extension of Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center’s emergency department.

ER at Blue Diamond includes 10 exam rooms, an on-site laboratory and imaging services such as CT, ultrasound and X-ray.

The facility offers “everything a normal ER would do,” said Carolyn Hafen, director of the emergency department at Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center and ER at Blue Diamond.

The new emergency department receives ambulances. But unlike at a traditional hospital, surgeries aren’t performed on site. And if patients need to be admitted to a hospital for an overnight stay, they’re transferred to Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center, Hafen said.

ER at Blue Diamond is about 6 miles from Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center. It’s 3.4 miles from St. Rose Dominican Hospital, San Martín campus on West Warm Springs Road and 3.8 miles from Dignity’s Blue Diamond Campus, a neighborhood hospital on Blue Diamond Road.

ER at Blue Diamond is the second freestanding emergency department Valley Health System has opened. The first — ER at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson — opened in November 2018 and is an extension of Henderson Hospital.

Valley Health System spokeswoman Gretchen Papez said she doesn’t know if the health system has plans to open more freestanding emergency departments.

The new emergency room

Since the ER at Blue Diamond opened, there has been a steady stream of patients, although mornings tend to be quieter, Papez said. She declined to provide an average number of patients treated daily.

Natural light spills into the waiting room through large windows. After patients check in, there’s a private triage area where medical staff can take their blood pressure and assess their condition.

Scott pointed out a pediatric exam room. With decals on the walls of cartoon-like animals such as hippos and giraffes, it’s meant to be a less intimidating atmosphere for children, but it has the same medical equipment as other exam rooms.

ER at Blue Diamond includes three rapid treatment exam rooms — one space separated by curtains — and seven other exam rooms.

There’s a resuscitation room for patients who are “really critical,” Scott said. And there’s an isolation room for patients who have an infectious illness.

ER at Blue Diamond has a full laboratory and small blood bank. Lab tests are processed on site — typically, with results in five to 10 minutes. That’s quicker than the approximately 30 minutes it takes in a traditional hospital ER, Hafen said.

A radiology area includes X-ray, CT and ultrasound technology. There’s also a portable X-ray machine that can be brought into exam rooms.

There’s a consultation room where a physician can talk with a patient’s family. And there’s a room where patients can wait after they’ve been treated to get their discharge paperwork.

A nationwide trend

A 2017 analysis by UnitedHealth Group — which includes the insurance company UnitedHealthcare — estimates there were at least 566 U.S. freestanding emergency departments in 2016, either owned independently or by a hospital. That’s a 155 percentage point increase compared with 2008.

Freestanding emergency departments can improve access to care and are more likely to be in affluent areas, according to the analysis, but not all are equipped to treat critical conditions. And some don’t have operating rooms or accept ambulances.

Only 2.3 percent of visits to U.S. freestanding emergency departments are for “emergent or immediate” issues that require services only offered by an emergency department, the analysis states, and often treat non-emergency conditions “at substantially higher prices than physician offices or urgent care centers.”

In May, the Clark County Commission adopted a new rule related to freestanding emergency rooms as a result of concerns about facilities unaffiliated with existing hospital systems.

Effective June 1, freestanding emergency rooms seeking a business license must accept Medicare and Medicaid, and be in compliance with federal law that requires emergency departments to treat patients regardless of ability to pay.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

Need emergency care?

ER at Blue Diamond is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 9217 S. Cimarron Road, near Blue Diamond Road.

You can find wait times at springvalleyhospital.com.

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