SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Avera emergency rooms see about 35,000 patients annually, according to the most recent data, said Dr. Jared Friedman.
Friedman is a vice president in ER services at Avera.
Today, Avera announced another emergency room option for patients. A freestanding ER will be part of a $34 million development in Dawley Farms in eastern Sioux Falls.
“Nearly every year we’ve seen growth in the last 16 years I have been here,” Friedman said. “The growth in emergency department (visits) is a national trend.”
The American College of Emergency Physicians said that (ER) visit estimates increased from 136.9 million in 2015 to 145.6 million in 2016. In 2001, there was an estimated 107.5 million visits. The number of visits in 2017 was 139 million.
The Centers for Disease Control says that there are 40.4 visits for every 100 persons.
The new ER will be similar to Avera’s freestanding ER at 2100 South Marion Road, Avera officials said. The east side location is about 13 miles from the Marion Road location.
Avera is joining a trend in the number of freestanding ERs. Freestanding ERs mean the emergency room is not attached to a hospital. Reuters reported in 2016 that the number of freestanding ERs grew from 222 sites in 2009 to 360 in March of 2015.
Ryan Vanden Bosch, an assistant vice president in Avera primary care, said the east side location is a response to the growth in Sioux Falls and increased demand for services.
Avera considered street access, population and other factors when it chose to expand at Dawley Farms. The system already has an Avera McGreevy Clinic with four providers at Dawley Farms. The expansion will have capacity for up to 40 providers.
Another key piece of the project is urgent care. Like ER, visits to urgent care continue to increase, Vanden Bosch said.
The three Avera urgent care sites have about 35,000 visits per year.
“The urgent care growth has been very steady in Sioux Falls,” Vanden Bosch said.
As of April, South Dakota has 23 urgent care sites, according to the Urgent Care Association.
There were 9,616 urgent care clinics as of November 2019, representing growth of 9.6% from the prior year, according to the Urgent Care Association.
A Business Insider January story said urgent care has about 89 million visits a year.
Health market analysts expect the market share for free-standing ERs and urgent care clinics to continue to grow.
Urgent care’s market share was projected to grow by Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.2% from 2018 through 2024, according to a market analysis by Grand View Research. The estimated market share was $19 billion in 2017.
The market share for free-standing ERs was 3 billion in 2019 and is expected to expand at a CAGR of around 5% over the forecast period to 2027, according to Grand View Research.
While population growth is a big factor in determining the Avera expansion, Vanden Bosch said, The American Journal of Emergency Medicine. noted that the number of ER visits outpaced population growth in the U.S. from 2010 to 2016.
While insurance covers ER visits a portion of those who visit ERs do not have insurance. In 2018, 37 visits per 100 people were uninsured patients, according to the CDC.
Avera does care for uninsured patients in its ERs but that is “part of the mission Avera has,” Friedman said.
One of the goals is to provide immediate care and then, contact the patient with primary and continuous care, he said.
Friedman said the free-standing ER at Dawley Farms will not be used for patients who are airlifted from scenes or other hospitals.
“We will be able to receive patients by ambulance,” Friedman said. Patients who may need a more immediate need of high level of care could be directed to Avera McKennan or the Avera Heart hospital, he said.