You've heard the saying - some of the best things come in small packages. But does that apply to high quality emergency care? Micro-hospitals are a big idea that will soon be in the Sooner state.
“ERs are the safety net,” said Dr. James Nichols, Baylor Emergency Medical Center “You can have a ton of sick people come in, a bus crash a wreck, whatever.
“They are seeing huge numbers, often full, the ER waits are incredibly long,” he said.
Dr. James Nichols should know, he spent 20 years working in a hospital ER. Now, he's found a change of pace inside a micro-hospital north of Dallas.
"Micro-hospitals are relatively new model for healthcare delivery; it's everything a hospital is but micro - more compacted," Dr. Nichols said.
Micro-hospitals range from 15,000 to 50,000 square feet with eight to 10 ER treatment rooms and the same number of in-patient rooms. Like a traditional ER - it's open 24/7 and includes a pharmacy, lab and imaging services.
"Anything can walk in the door. We've had cardiac arrest here; we've delivered babies," he said.
Micro-hospitals are popping up in several states including Texas and Colorado. Now, Intregris is bringing that trend to Oklahoma.
Integris President and CEO Bruce Lawrence plans to build four micro-hospitals in the metro.
"This is more of a retail type of approach to medicine," Lawrence said. "It's going to be close, convenient and if it's truly something you can get in and out, you'll be able to do that very quickly."
Integris will build its first micro-hospital in Moore. Three others will follow in northwest Oklahoma City, southeast Oklahoma City and a second location in Moore.
The facilities will not compete with the larger hospital but instead take some of the burden off of them.
That begs the question then, are those places going to be swamped with these people who are actually not emergency who just want to go see a doctor?
"That's what they're geared up for, and they won't have the distraction of an ambulance coming through the door with a major automobile accident or a major heart attack that requires everyone's attention and resource," said Bruce Lawrence, Integris president and CEO.
Micro-hospitals are typically built in suburban and urban areas - but still less than 20 miles away from a larger hospital, in case a patient needs a higher level of care.
"They took me in pretty quick," said Glenn Davison, patient.
Glenn Davison lives just a mile away from a micro-hospital facility in north Texas.
"What happened was that I had a lot of plaque in my artery, and it collapsed and just cut the blood supply off," he said.
He was having a heart attack and even though micro-hospitals aren't equipped to care for the critically ill, doctors here stabilized him and transported him to a larger hospital.
"To me it was a lifesaver," Davison said.
Patient costs for a micro-hospital visit are higher than those at urgent care centers, but lower than traditional hospital costs.