Dr. David Anthony Miranda Addresses the Recent Closing of Freestanding ERs in Texas
Since passing legislation in 2009 and issuing licenses to freestanding emergency rooms from 2010 onward. The state of Texas has seen an explosion in these numbers of these convenience-focused medical facilities. Especially during the years which have followed. Now, however, it’s an industry that’s struggling, according to Dr. David Anthony Miranda, an experienced urgent care physician based in San Antonio, Texas.
Intended to allow patients quicker, more convenient access to medical attention, freestanding emergency rooms were also seen as a way to ease overcrowding in larger, established hospitals, while simultaneously affording more local emergency room access to those living in rural communities. “It’s been suggested that the freestanding emergency room business model grew too fast for its own good,” explains Dr. Miranda.
Such facilities have also faced criticism for being more costly than existing, traditional hospitals, often unbeknownst to patients who had been led to believe that these freestanding emergency rooms were, in fact, a less expensive alternative.
“One of the biggest touted benefits of freestanding emergency rooms was that they would bring emergency medical care to rural communities across Texas,” reveals Dr. Miranda, who specializes in the care of medically underserved, predominantly rural populations. “Unfortunately, however,” he continues, “these facilities became more prominent in larger towns and cities than in more remote areas where they would’ve proved more beneficial.”
Urgent Care Physician Dr. David Anthony Miranda Explores the Ongoing Struggles Faced by Texas’ Freestanding Emergency Rooms.
Another criticism, Dr. Miranda points out, is that—as a business model—freestanding emergency rooms rely heavily on what he calls ‘a well-insured patient population,’ something which is less common in more rural settings. “Many freestanding emergency rooms are now opting not to renew their licenses,” says the physician.
Licensing numbers are also down, nearby hospitals acquire such facilities. Which they can then operate under their existing license or licenses, according to Dr. Miranda.
“The industry,” he continues, “showed great promise, and I myself worked in one of Houston’s early facilities. The location has played a large part in both the success and failure of many freestanding emergency rooms. Opening more successful locations now under the ownership of larger hospitals.
Dr. David Anthony Miranda believes that we need a renewed focus on pricing and location. Those living in rural sections of Texas will benefit most from freestanding ERs. There’s still hope for the industry as a whole says Dr. Miranda.
“Our freestanding emergency rooms play an important role in Texas. I hope that, with time and a renewed focus, license numbers for these vital facilities will once again increase.”