Emergency facilities seek to help hospitals statewide

Emergency facilities seek to help hospitals

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Free-standing emergency rooms in Texas are petitioning to help hospitals overflowing with patients.

The Texas Association of Freestanding Emergency Center has formally petitioned the state to offer non-emergency services to the public.

Many facilities, like Star ER in Lubbock, has resources available to help with some non-emergencies. Those facilities just need to be categorized differently order to perform those services.

“We’re very, very equipped to handle outpatients studies,” Medical Director of Star ER, Dr. Jonathan Skelton, said.

But that OK must come from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

It would allow for places like Star ER to expand on what it currently offers. The expansion would include COVID-19 tests, C-T scans, ultrasounds and some lab work.

The goal is to continue to offer what a typical emergency department would offer, while also performing certain outpatient procedures.

“It’s something we feel that we’re confident that we can accomplish and accomplish it quickly,” Skelton said.

Facilities like Star ER would just have to increase its staffing to meet a potential increase in patient demand. Most of its other equipment is already good to go.

There is also a bill filed in the State House of Representatives by Rep. James White. That could make this category change possible on a permanent basis.

As of now, though, there is no detailed timeline on when or if any changes can happen.

“The regulations, being as they are just haven’t allowed the lawmakers to change that yet,” Skelton said. “So, it looks like it may take a pandemic to do it.”

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