The closing of Fairfield Memorial hospital could have been a huge blow to access to care for one of South Carolina’s most rural and underserved areas. Instead, Providence Health-Fairfield’s newly-constructed freestanding emergency room, a state-of-the-art facility that ensures comprehensive emergency medical care, launched in time to continuously meet those needs.
The new facility opened the same day Fairfield Memorial closed, guaranteeing access to emergency care and providing a crucial bridge for the rural area. The 12,000-square-foot building features four treatment rooms; two trauma rooms; an onsite laboratory; and imaging services such as computerized tomography (CT scan), ultrasound and X-ray. An additional 6,000-square-feet are available for future expansion of services as needed.
While LifePoint Health, the owner of Providence Health, funded most of the construction, the project was made possible in party by support from Fairfield County government and South Carolina’s Hospital Transformation Project, which contributed nearly $4 million to the effort.
The Transformation Project was created by then-Governor Nikki Haley and the state legislature as part of a plan to fortify rural hospitals as they face difficult circumstances. South Carolina has gradually been losing hospitals in rural communities, many designated as “critical access hospitals.” Their profits have been squeezed as patients move away or seek care at other facilities, such as ambulatory centers. Insurance companies have also been pushing their members to look beyond hospitals for care. Rural hospitals also have less ability to negotiate rates, and their patient populations are generally older and sicker.
Freestanding emergency rooms like Providence Health-Fairfield are invaluable alternatives that will make an enormous impact on the surrounding community.
“LifePoint is proud to invest in the health and vitality of this region by ensuring that comprehensive emergency medical care is available and easily within reach for all community members,” said Jamie Carter, Eastern Division president of LifePoint Health. “We are excited about the enormous impact Providence Health-Fairfield will have on countless lives right here in Fairfield County for a long time to come.”