Plainfield - Once the Plainfield Backus Emergency Care Center opens July 9, the travel time for Plainfield residents to the nearest emergency room will be less than third of what it is now.
Today, two weeks before the center will open to receive its first patients, ribbon-cutting ceremonies will take place at the 13,000-square-foot, $7 million center. The public is invited. The center is on Norwich Road, about a half mile from Exit 88 off I-395.
"People can take comfort that when they need an ER, they won't have as far to travel," First Selectman Paul Sweet said Monday, noting that the new center will be three to five minutes away for most Plainfield residents, who now travel 15 to 20 minutes to reach an ER. "Plainfield is the big winner in this whole thing."
The town will benefit from the property tax revenues generated by the building, because the nonprofit hospital will lease the building from contractor O, R&L, keeping it on the tax rolls, and from the 60 new jobs at the center, Sweet said. A job fair to recruit registered nurses for the center will take place Thursday.
Shawn Mawhiney, spokesman for Backus, said the new emergency room will be open around the clock, providing all types of emergency health care services except trauma care, as well as diagnostic imaging, lab services and convenient care for less serious illnesses. Patients who need to be admitted to the hospital after treatment at the ER would be taken to the main hospital in Norwich.
"This will be a full-fledged ER," he said.
About 12,000 patients are expected in the first year, he said. Five physicians have been hired to staff it.
The main emergency department at The William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich has been treating about 65,000 patients per year. Its capacity is about 70,000 patients per year.
If the proposed affiliation between Backus and the Hartford Hospital becomes a reality, the Plainfield emergency department will the second in Windham County for the Hartford HealthCare network. Windham Hospital is also part of the network.
The new center has 12 patient care rooms. Mawhiney said that once it opens, patients will be able to find out by visiting the Backus Hospital website, www.backushospital.org, to check the wait times at both the Plainfield and main hospital emergency rooms.