Emergency department opens in Huntersville
by Staff Writer
HUNTERSVILLE – North Mecklenburg residents now have another option for emergency care.
Carolinas HealthCare System opened a freestanding full-functioning emergency department for patients Monday, April 16, at CMC-Huntersville, 16455 Statesville Road.
“We can handle anything from lacerations and ankle sprains to critical care, which is heart attack, stroke,” Emergency Department Medical Director Ed McCutchen said.
CMC-Huntersville operates as an extension of CMC-University. The emergency department will add to CMC-Huntersville’s 17 medical practices and radiology center, so specialists will always be close by.
“It allows us to have different services right at our fingertips,” said Monifa Drayton, CMC-Huntersville director. “Oftentimes patients will request a plastic surgeon to do minor stitches, and we have one right here that is on board and willing to do that.”
Charlotte Radiology will continue to operate an outpatient facility in its existing office, but it is now connected to the emergency department.
“We chose to put the emergency department here, and amazingly, the CT scanner is exactly where we would have put it if we’d designed this building from scratch,” CMC-University President Bill Leonard said.
The scanner is just inside the center from the emergency room doors.
But specialists don’t have to be on the same property to collaborate with emergency personnel. Electronic medical records allow emergency room doctors to consult with specialists in real time.
Lab machines post test results to the network instantly so specialists anywhere in the CMC network can see patient records. McCutchen said he can pick up a yellow physician connection line phone and request transportation while talking to a physician elsewhere. McCutchen only needs to tell the specialist a name and room number, and they can both look at all the patient’s up-to-the-minute information while consulting.
The facility includes a decontamination room that chemical spill victims can enter through. Leonard said CMC plans for high risks for particular areas. Proximity to Interstate 77 increases the risk of a chemical spill. CMC also works with Duke Energy on emergency preparedness for McGuire Nuclear Plant, Leonard said.
The department devotes two of its 11 beds to observation, so patients can stay overnight for moderate issues. Patients will go to CMC-University if they need to be admitted. Ambulances and a helicopter are on hand for quick transfers.
But if CMC’s four other standalone emergency departments are any indication, fewer patients will be admitted than from a typical emergency room. Less than five percent of patients at CMC-Steele Creek’s emergency department, which has served more than 20,000 patients in two years, are admitted to a hospital.
“The convenience for the patients, you just can’t replicate if you’re on a hospital campus,” Leonard said.
Parking, lab services, diagnostics and radiology dedicated to the emergency department make for a more efficient emergency room.
CMC-Huntersville also uses technology already established at its other locations to streamline patients’ wait-time. Anytime a patient comes in they can scan their palm to pull up their medical records, even if they are brought in to the emergency room unconscious without identification. Patients can register with the pass program at any CMC office.
CMC’s mobile application allows patients to check wait times at all CMC emergency facilities and gives directions to the most convenient choice.