Emergency Department

Emergency Department; Somerville Hospital’s emergency department is closing. An urgent care clinic will replace it. Cambridge Health Alliance’s board of trustees voted Tuesday to approve a plan that includes converting the Somerville Emergency Department to an urgent care facility. The clinic is expected to open in spring 2020. The hospital made national news in 2016 when 34-year-old Laura Levis suffer a fatal asthma attack outside its emergency room’s locked doors. A CHA spokes person, David Cecere, said the newly announce changes are not relate to Levis’s death.

Emergency department staff

A statement from the Cambridge Health Alliance said the new urgent care center; which will better meet the needs of the Somerville community. It said a study found most residents use the Somerville emergency room for care closer to an urgent care level. The clinic will treat more minor injuries and illnesses that are not serious enough to warrant an emergency room visit. Cecere said the clinic’s level of care will be higher than that of a standard urgent care facility because the emergency department staff will operate it.

The renovation will be phase so the emergency room can remain open, he said. The emergency department is open 24/7, but the clinic will only be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. State data from 2015 found more than 40% of Massachusetts’s emergency room visits were avoidable, and nearly 70% of those avoidable visits happen between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. A Health Policy Commission report recommend connecting patients with facilities such as urgent care clinics to drive down avoidable visits.

The somerville residents

However, a 2017 Cambridge Health Alliance report find that many Somerville residents; hence did not understand the difference between emergency and urgent care. Though national emergency care is on the rise, the Cambridge Health Alliance’s statement said Somerville emergency room visits have decline 36% over the last decade. Many residents go to the Cambridge ED instead of the Somerville ED, according to Cecere. The two hospitals are about 10 minutes apart by car.

The statement called the new clinic a “lower-cost option to ED for many health; which needs” where all will be welcome “regardless of ability to pay.” Cecere said urgent care visits will be bill like primary care or outpatient visits; making them less expensive than emergency room trips. The plan that was approve Tuesday also includes renovating the Central Street Care Center; hence relocating the Teen Care Center, and constructing a new Care Center in Union Square. “This is not a financially drive decision but one; so that they believe better meets the needs of the community,” the Cambridge Health Alliance statement read.