University of South Alabama (USA) Health held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new freestanding emergency department in west Mobile, Ala., on Oct. 14.
When construction on the facility is complete, it will provide people who live and work in that part of town with convenient access to advanced emergency and diagnostic care.
The address for the new USA Health emergency department is 171 Hillcrest Rd., at that street's intersection with Old Shell Road.
Construction is set to be finished in approximately 12 months. The project cost is budgeted at more than $14 million.
The University of South Alabama's Office of Facilities Management is managing the construction of this project. The architect is Goodwin, Mills and Cawood, with offices located across the southeast.
"This facility reflects the value that the University of South Alabama and academic health systems bring to our community," said Tony Waldrop, president of the university. "In addition to providing advanced emergency care, [it] also will support our mission to train the next generation of healthcare providers."
Freestanding emergency departments are a relatively new concept in Alabama with only a few being in operation, including one each in Daphne and Saraland, plus locations around Birmingham.
USA Health has been developing its plans for the facility since receiving state approval through the Certificate of Need process in 2018.
West Mobile and Mobile County's rapid growth in residential development in recent years helped drive the need for a new trauma center.
"This facility will enable people to have their emergency healthcare needs met in a nearby and convenient location that is part of the region's only academic health system dedicated to helping people lead longer, better lives," said Owen Bailey, chief executive officer of USA Health.
USA Health anticipates up to 15,000 patient visits per year at the location, which will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Led by board-certified emergency medicine physicians, patient care will be supported by significant imaging capabilities including a CT scanner, an MRI, X-ray and ultrasound. In addition, a helipad, as required of all freestanding emergency departments, will be located at the facility, with likely use being to take patients from the location to other facilities for more treatment.
Located adjacent to the university's main campus, the new facility also will help in the training of future generations of healthcare providers.
USA Health recently started an emergency medicine residency program to increase the number of physicians specifically trained for emergency medicine. In addition to the medical school, USA has introductory and advanced educational programs in nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician's assistant, radiological services, and speech pathology and audiology.
"Alabama currently has a shortage of board-certified emergency medicine physicians to care for citizens locally and throughout our state," said Edward Panacek, professor and chair of the USA Department of Emergency Medicine. "This new facility will increase opportunities for our resident physicians to train with faculty physicians at a new location inside our academic health system."
USA Health is the region's only academic health system. Its mission — through medical education, research and patient care — is to help people lead longer, better lives.