Under a bill that became state law this summer, Freestanding Emergency Centers like the Plainfield Emergency Center at 24600 W. 127th St. are now able to accept certain Advanced Life Support (ALS) patients via ambulance. Previously, all ALS patients had to be taken to an ER at the site of a full-service acute care hospital.
House Bill 4388, with primary sponsors Rep. Grant Wehrli (R – Naperville) and Sen. Michael Connelly (R – Naperville), was signed into law on August 5 by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. Other sponsors of the bill included Rep. Mark Batinick (R – Plainfield) and Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D – Plainfield).
“The new law truly has a community-wide impact that benefits patients, families, hospitals, and fire departments or fire protection districts,” says Rep. Wehrli. “Patients are able to stay close to home for care, we’re able to keep wait times down in the hospital-based ERs because there are fewer patients and our paramedics are back on call sooner in their own neighborhoods.”
“A large percentage of ALS patients are treated and released,” says Dr. Daryl Wilson, Emergency Management System Medical Director and an Emergency Department physician, Edward Hospital. “The new law helps ensure better outcomes for patients because they get high-quality care quicker since they get to the ER sooner. And, it’s much more convenient because patients and their families are closer to home.”
For example, before the new law went into effect, if a patient from Plainfield with a broken leg who was given IV medication for hydration or pain, Plainfield Fire Protection District paramedics would have been required to take the patient to Edward Hospital in Naperville (13 miles from the Plainfield campus) or another hospital in the area for treatment. The new law allows the patient to be transported to the Plainfield Emergency Center, something that also benefits the fire department and community.
“When we have to drive to Naperville, our crews are out of service and unavailable for 30 or 40 minutes,” says Chief Dave Riddle, Plainfield Fire Protection District. “Now, in the situations where it’s appropriate, we won’t have to transport patients to hospitals farther away, so we’ll be able to stay in own service area.”
ALS patients with more severe injuries or life-threatening conditions, such as possible strokes or heart attacks, would still be taken to Edward Hospital or other hospital-based ERs in the region.
In 2015, Edward Hospital’s two ERs treated nearly 98,000 patients – 69,476 in Naperville, 28,309 in Plainfield – among the most for hospitals in the Chicago area and state of Illinois.
For more information about Edward-Elmhurst Health’s emergency and immediate care services in the west and southwest suburbs, visit www.eehealth.org/services/emergency