It wasn't long ago I wrote a story about burger wars in East County.
This isn't quite as tasty, but certainly is along those lines and even more important.
On March 24, I took a tour through the new Doctors Hospital of Sarasota Emergency Room in Lakewood Ranch. It's impressive.
With our area's explosion in growth (currently 375,000 people in Manatee County, up from 264,000 in 2000), it makes sense we will be experiencing competition in everything from burgers to medical services.
If we are going to grow so fast, that's a good thing. Let's face it, I can go the extra mile for a burger. I might not be able to say the same if I fall on my table saw.
During my tour of the new 11,000-square-foot emergency room, I spoke with Doctors Hospital CEO Robert Meade, who said the new facility in the Lakewood Ranch area (8500 State Road 70 East, Bradenton) was inevitable.
"We've been looking at this market for three years," Meade said. "A lot of folks from here use our facility in Sarasota. There was a need in this community."
The need is obvious. In February, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center announced a $28.5 million expansion. Urgent care centers have been popping up. Competition is heating up. People are still moving here.
Meade's research determined the East County area produces more than 100,000 emergency room visits a year. He said projections show more than 12,000 patients will come to his new facility, which opened March 26, in the first year, and he said that figure most likely is too low.
The new emergency room will have two physicians each working a 12-hour shift each day. Approximately three nurses a day will staff the facility. It will have 12 treatment rooms, all private. The facility will have a radiology lab, CAT scans and x-rays on site. Lab work will be done in house at the $10 million facility.
I poked around in the new emergency room for an hour, even though my lifelong ambition has been to stay away from them. It looked, felt, smelled like any emergency room that has a huge hospital attached. This one, however, is right next to the Burger King.
It will be interesting to see how DOSER (like my acronym?) or Doctors Hospital of Sarasota Emergency Room fares when it comes to ambulances using their facility and coming into conflict with those folks who drive kind of nuts to get to Walmart. The facility itself is greatly accessible to Interstate 75 but that final 25 yards could be rush hour at Times Square.
Considering the minds involved, I am sure it all will be calculated and will run smoothly. They certainly don't need more customers.
I did ask Meade about how someone should know if an emergency room visit is necessary.
Meade said he really can't answer what makes an emergency room visit necessary. He said that varies from person to person. Of course, chest pains or signs of stroke constitute no-brainers, and supposedly minor injuries can turn into major ones if not treated.
He also noted a distinct difference between emergency rooms and urgent care facilities.
"We will be open 24/7," he said. "And we will have only board-certified physicians taking care of people."
Yeah, but what about most people's biggest worry, languishing in the waiting room?
Monica Yadav, the director of marketing for Doctors Hospital, said the average waiting time in their hospital system is seven minutes.
"We don't want you to spend a lot of time there," Yadav said.
That might not even be enough time to step out for a burger.