The 10,000-square-foot ER of Shawnee is a full-service emergency department

By Linda Friedel, KC Nursing News

A new free-standing emergency room in Shawnee adds options in emergency care in northern Johnson County and parts of Wyandotte County.

Overland Park Regional Medical Center opened the ER of Shawnee, a full-service emergency room on Nov. 6. The new facility, located at 10310 Shawnee Mission Parkway, already has impacted the citizens of Shawnee, said Kevin Hicks, chief executive officer of Overland Park Regional Medical Center (OPRMC), part of HCA Midwest Health.

“It’s additional access for ER care for citizens in that community,” Hicks said. “HCA has developed a reputation with our system of ERs around the city of very little to no wait time. We all know that the No. 1 determinant of patient satisfaction in ER care is timeliness of when they’re seen.”

Hicks, formerly of Shawnee, says he can see his boyhood home in the subdivision across the street once the leaves are down. Hicks grew up in Shawnee and graduated from St. Joseph Catholic School of Shawnee.

“I’m exited about it (being) literally across the street where I grew up,” Hicks said. “To be part of a facility way back where I grew up is kind of exiting to me personally.”

Hicks said HCA has built approximately 50 free-standing emergency rooms across the country. Another is under construction in Olathe, Kan., scheduled to open in April of 2015, he said. Hicks says free-standing emergency rooms are trending across the country for several reasons.

“It allows you to get where the ER care is closer to where the community lives without investing hundreds of millions of dollars for a hospital,” he said. “You can bring the ER services to the community for a fraction of that.”

The 10,000-square-foot facility has a CT scanner, full-service lab for blood and other tests, a radiology department,

a trauma room, a contamination room, an isolation room and 10 patient rooms. The ER of Shawnee has a fulltime physician and nursing staff, lab technician and pharmacist. According to HCA, the facility is prepared to take patients from Shawnee, Tonganoxie, Leavenworth, Bonner Springs and Kansas City, Kan. Two and a half weeks after opening day, the staff had seen 70 patients, said Annice Masse, RN, BS, CEN, CPEN, CCRN, director of ER of Shawnee.

“The whole new free-standing ER department is a new way to go,” she said. “It’s the way of the future.”

Masse said they are trying to get the word out to the public to distinguish the difference between a free-standing urgent care facility and full-service emergency department.

The ER of Shawnee is open 24 hours seven days a week and can admit the same level of patients that OPRMC can take, she said. The ER has 10 staff members for the day shift and 10 at night, she said. Patients can pick any hospital for their follow-up care, Masse said, but if they choose to be transported for observation or admittance at OPRMC, the transportation cost is free.

“If it’s something at the level of care that Overland Park can take, it’s a transfer with no added cost to it,” she said. “We are the full thing. We are a full-blown ER.” Masse said she is surprised that her career took this direction. The former New York native spent the past five years as director of a critical access hospital in Ellsworth, Kan., where patients were admitted for accidents associated with horses, farm implements and chemicals. Most of the nurses crossed their fingers hoping the next emergency patient was not their relative, she said.

“Many of the people working for the facility — nurses more than likely, were related to the patients you are seeing in the ER. You would see panic through the whole nursing department thinking it was their kid.” Masse said she went through culture shock moving from Oneonta, N.Y., to a small town in central Kansas.

She had never known her patients during her 27 years of emergency and trauma work up until then. It did not take long before the faces became familiar, she said. “Within the first couple weeks I knew all my patients,” Masse said.

When Masse moved to the Kansas City area to be closer to her daughter, she had hoped to work as a staff nurse at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. Administrators had another idea for her, she said.

“I have loved every minute of it,” she said. “We’re working out some kinks. This is all new. I’m seeing fabulous teamwork among my nurses.” Linda Helenthal, RN, BSN, administrative director of emergency services for Overland Park Regional Medical Center, helped with the implementation at the new facility.

She said the ER of Shawnee is conveniently located between Interstate 35 and Interstate 435. The new emergency room will help to relieve the burden of over-crowded emergency departments at hospitals, she said.

There is a lot of potential for pediatrics all over the county including Wyandotte County, she said.

“It’s an outreach into the community where we can provide them another option for their emergency care,” Helenthal said.