Forty years of careFeb 16, 2015 10:24AM ● By Kerigan Butt
By Steven Hoffman
Dr. Amir Mansoory remembers that when he and a group of other medical professionals established the Newark Emergency Center in June of 1973, there was no other facility in the area that could meet the emergency health care needs of residents in New Castle County. Patients turned to the center for treatment of injuries sustained in car accidents, fractures, stomach pain, or even heart attacks. Until the Newark Emergency Center opened, patients would have to travel to or be transported via ambulance to emergency departments at one of the hospitals in Wilmington. During an emergency, every minute counts. Newark Emergency Center became the first free-standing emergency care facility in the United States.
“There was nothing as far as emergency care in Newark,” Dr. Mansoory said. “Those days were frustrating because it took 30 minutes to get to other hospitals.”
The doctors have followed through with the original mission of the center, which is to make sure care is available to patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is no doubt in Dr. Shah Morovati’s mind that the Newark Emergency Center has filled a need in the community for all these years.
“The need has been demonstrated—we’ve treated a minimum of 600,000 patients, and I think that is a modest figure,” Morovati said. “We see a real broad cross section of the community.”
The Newark Emergency Center was way ahead of its time with regard to the gap that exists in medical care. Doctors’ offices are typically inundated with patients, and appointments need to be scheduled well in advance. Emergency rooms find it challenging to keep up with the continuous stream of patients needing care. The Newark Emergency Center offers another option to receive expedient and quality care. The medical staff at the Newark Emergency Center prides itself on delivering the necessary care in a timely manner.
“You can come in the door and normally you will be seen within ten minutes,” said Rob Lynn, the emergency center's administrator. “And we’re here 24 hours a day, seven days a week and that distinguishes us from walk-in clinics.”
Flo White, an administrative assistant who has worked at the facility for the last 24 years, said, “We’re an emergency center. You can come here, be treated, and be out of here in less than an hour. We have a good staff of doctors and nurses.”
Over the years, there have been many instances where doctors here have provided care that helped keep a patient alive.
“Going back 40 years, we have a lot of stories like that,” said Mansoory. There have been instances, for example, where the medical staff has helped people suffering from heart attacks, allergies to bee stings, deep lacerations, and serious asthma attacks.
The staff is also committed to doing everything possible to ensure that patients receive the treatment and care that they need with a personal touch. A nurse will call two days after a patient has been treated to check on their condition.
White said that many of the employees have been at the emergency center for 15, 20, or 25 years.
“It’s like working with a big family,” she said.
Suzy Pate, the head nurse during the dayshift, is one of those longtime employees. She has worked at the emergency center for 25 years. She said that the biggest changes that have taken place over the years are the evolving diagnostic procedures and the variety of medications that are now available to treat patients. What hasn’t changed so much is what patients say they like about the emergency center.
“We get patient feedback and they say that being able to be seen when they come in and for us to be able to treat them right away is very important,” Pate said.
The Newark Emergency Center always has one physician and one nurse on duty. An X-ray technician is usually on duty from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“We want to make sure that there is a doctor here, even at midnight,” Lynn said. “And we’re right here in the backyard for Newark residents.”
Lynn, who joined the Newark Emergency Center earlier this year, is only the third administrator in its history. Even before he joined the center, he understood the vital services that it was providing to the community because he worked in the medical billing field and the Newark Emergency Center was a client.
“These are all experienced physicians who take care of both minor and major issues,” he said.
The Newark Emergency Center operates as a not-for-profit corporation and is governed by a board of trustees and an executive committee that oversees the operation in conjunction with management. They treat all patients regardless of their financial status or ability to pay, and work with patients on payment plans.
“We opened an emergency center to make it a non-profit entity,” Mansoory said. “We take all comers.”
The Newark Emergency Center owns the medical and diagnostic equipment at the facility and employs a nursing, radiology and support staff to operate on a 24/7 basis. This includes X-ray services and limited lab diagnostics.
The facility has two X-ray rooms, a casting room, and two resuscitation rooms. A walk through the Newark Emergency Center reveals that it resembles a small hospital.
“It’s a hybrid in that it has been here so long that it was a full-blown emergency center at one time,” Lynn explained.
The physician staff is comprised of five board-certified general surgeons and physicians who are board-certified in primary care. All the doctors are experienced in emergency medical care.
The doctors have seen significant changes at the Newark Emergency Center over the last 40 years. Since the establishment of a statewide Emergency Medical Services system, the Newark Emergency Center no longer receives patients by ambulance as they are usually taken directly to the Christiana Hospital.
Still, about 30 patients a day, on average, seek treatment at the center. The importance of the facility is illustrated every time someone turns to the medical professionals here for treatment for a broken bone, stomach pain, or another ailment.
Mansoory said that there have been plenty of ups and downs over the years, but the leaders of the Newark Emergency Center have weathered them all because of the talented and dedicated people who have worked there.
“We’ve had ups and downs on the number of patients and we were able to manage thanks to our wonderful staff,” he said.
With the full impact of the Affordable Care Act about to be felt, the doctors expect that there will be significant changes coming to the health care industry. A lot more people will have access to health insurance starting in January of 2014. Many of those people may not have seen a doctor regularly in some time so there will be some extra demand for medical services.
Dr. Mehdi Jadali is the medical director of the center. He said that the epidemic of morbid obesity and other ailments that have gone untreated will require some work to get patients back on the path to good health.
Morovati said, “I think the need will be expanding. As the need increases, we will expand.”
“The people know us for emergency medical care,” Mansoory said. “In the past 40 years, we have never lost a patient here.”
In the event that a patient arrives at the Newark Emergency Center with a medical condition that needs further evaluation and treatment at an acute care facility, the center has the capability to stabilize the patient and arrange for a transfer to the appropriate facility—such as the Christiana Hospital or A. I. DuPont Hospital. Staff members are certified in advanced cardiac life-support so they can stabilize the patient for transport.
After building its reputation for the last four decades, the Newark Emergency Center officials say that they still serve a very important function for the community.
For more information about the services available at the Newark Emergency Center, visit www.newarkemergencycenter.org.
To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email [email protected].