When faced with an illness or injury, sometimes it’s hard to know where to go for treatment. With so many options for care, including emergency rooms and urgent care clinics, understanding where to turn during a medical emergency can save precious time and provide the best possible outcome.
What is a freestanding emergency room?
Freestanding emergency rooms (FSERs) are off-campus ERs that are affiliated with hospitals and are an extension of a hospital's emergency room. How you will know: Look at the name of the ER to tell if it is affiliated with a larger health system or hospital. The name may contain the name of the health system or indicate the ER is a department of the hospital.
When you need a facility that is open 24/7 and offers a higher level of care to deal with an emergency situation, a hospital-owned and operated emergency room is your best option for a number of reasons. While FSERs are structurally separate from hospitals, they are capable of delivering emergency services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The same quality care, closer to home
At HCA Midwest Health, each FSER serves as an extension of an HCA Midwest Health hospital. They are staffed by board-certified emergency room physicians and nurses with experience treating emergent injuries and serious medical conditions. HCA Midwest Health FSERs are subject to the same licensing and operational requirements as acute care facilities.
Each FSER has a dedicated ambulance bay for the intake of emergency medical services patients and is also able to take care of walk-in patients. There is a seamless transition of care should someone need to be transferred to an inpatient hospital setting. Within HCA Midwest Health, our FSERs treat the same clinical conditions as emergency rooms within hospital facilities regardless of patients’ insurance status or ability to pay.
Some medical emergencies that require a trip to an ER or FSER include:
- Suspected heart attack
- Suspected stroke
- Trouble breathing
- Severe allergic reactions
- Broken bones
- Severe burns
- Deep wounds with heavy bleeding
- High fever
- Uncontrolled nausea, diarrhea or dehydration
- Suspected poisoning
- Drug/alcohol overdose
It’s important that you seek out the appropriate care setting based on the severity of your needs. HCA Midwest Health has eight emergency rooms within hospitals in the Kansas City region as well as FSERs across the region in Brookside, Olathe and Shawnee.
Advantages of FSERs include:
Board-certified physicians and specially trained staff: Patients are seen by board-certified and board-eligible emergency medicine physicians and emergency RNs. Often, they are the same physicians, nurses and other healthcare providers who practice at the primary ER location in the hospital.
Full-service care: FSERs are equipped to handle true medical emergencies such as life-threatening illnesses and injuries expertly and efficiently and with many of the same resources and personnel of a hospital ER, including laboratory techs, radiology/imaging CT and X-ray techs, patient access registrars, pharmacists and paramedics/ED techs.
Pediatric expertise and training: Your child's injury or illness is important. The HCA Midwest Health FSERs are pediatric-ready emergency rooms, which means you can trust our specialists to know how to work with and treat your child on their level. If you child needs a higher level of care, we can move kids to our pediatric ER in Overland Park.
Lower average wait times: The average wait time to see a provider at our FSERs is lower than the average wait time at most area hospital-based ERs, according to publicly reported data.
Insurance acceptance: Because FSERs operate as a department of a hospital, you can be sure they accept the same insurance plans and adhere to all state and federal regulatory compliance requirements for acute care hospitals.
Seamless transition of care: If patients need a higher level of care that can only be provided by a hospital, transferring from an FSERs to its main hospital or a hospital within its network is seamless.
24/7/365 service: FSERs are always open, just like hospital ERs.
Recognized by Medicare and Medicaid: HCA Midwest Health FSERs are recognized by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as emergency departments.
When to visit an urgent care clinic, not a freestanding ER
For less severe illnesses and injuries that don’t require emergency treatment, urgent care clinics may be the better option. HCA Midwest Health, our CareNow® Urgent Care clinics treat non-emergent medical problems that can develop unexpectedly and require immediate attention, filling the gap between primary care physicians and hospital emergency rooms. We have 12 urgent care clinics across the Kansas City region that offer extended hours, walk-in appointments and online Web Check-In® to reduce your wait time in the clinic.
Our urgent care clinics treat a wide range of medical issues, with care provided by trained specialists. Common reasons to visit a CareNow® Urgent Care clinic might include:
- Acid reflux
- Bug bites or stings
- Burns (minor)
- Cold or flu symptoms
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- Cuts or wounds
- Ear infections
- Rashes or hives
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Sore throat or strep throat
- Sprains or strains
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Urgent care clinics are a broadly used form of care for many and are seen as convenient, quick solutions for a host of medical needs. Find a CareNow® Urgent Care clinic near you.
When in doubt, call Nurses On-Call for free medical advice
Do you need help deciding if you or a loved one should go to the ER, visit a CareNow® Urgent Care clinic or consult your family physician? Our expert nurses can help you understand symptoms, manage a chronic condition or learn about treatment options and medical procedures. Free medical advice is just one phone call away, whether you’re a new parent worried about your child's fever, or you’re caring for an aging parent. It’s simple, free and can offer you the peace of mind you need. Call Ask-A-Nurse 24/7 at (816) 751-3000.
Caring for families in the Kansas City region
As healthcare continues to evolve, we know you are looking for high-quality and convenient options for care, diagnosis and treatment. HCA Midwest Health is committed to expanding access to emergency care in our region when seconds matter.