New clinic coming

The SignatureCare emergency center on 800 West Central Texas Expressway in Killeen is under construction and expected to be open by the end of 2018.

There will soon be a new 24-hour emergency room in Killeen.

SignatureCare Emergency Center will open its new clinic at 800 W. Central Texas Expressway in Killeen by the end of the year, officials said.

According to digital marketing manager Jennifer Martin, the location is under construction and will function as a free-standing emergency room with many advantages for its patients.

“We function exactly like a hospital-based ER,” she said. “The only difference is that we … don’t have a long wait time … Our doctors wait for you; you don’t have to wait for our doctors. When you come to our facility, we don’t have to call a doctor in; we already have one there.”

Traditional ERs often have long wait times due to high traffic volume and a low doctor-and-nurse-to-patient ratio. Since free-standing emergency centers are not connected to an adjoining hospital, the wait time is usually much shorter. The facility has a streamlined process to minimize wait time and maximize patients’ satisfaction, the company said.

“Typically, once you filled out the paperwork you are brought into triage and the doctor will see you within 10 to 15 minutes,” Martin said.

The staff will consist of board-certified physicians as well as licensed nurses who are trained to handle medical emergencies for children and adults. Doctors are able to treat a wide range of medical conditions from minor injuries to life-threatening situations.

The ER will be equipped with a CT scanner, X-ray machines and a full blood lab on site.

“It’s almost like having your own, private hospital or private emergency room,” Martin said.

Patients can not only expect high-quality care, but also enjoy a fully renovated environment, the company said.

“All of our facilities are modern, with state-of-the-art equipment; everything that is in our facilities is top notch,” Martin said. “We take pride in the facility and in the way that it looks.”

Although the emergency room is designed to treat and discharge its visitors quickly, patients can stay overnight for observation if required and don’t need to be sent to a hospital.

Even surgery procedures are handled quickly.

“We would call and schedule your surgery, the surgeon would come and see you at our facility and then we would take you by ambulance to the surgical center wherever you are having the surgery done,” Martin said.

Depending on the location, SignatureCare Emergency Centers usually have about 10 treatment rooms as well as five to 12 observation rooms for their patients.

Contrary to urgent care offices, SignatureCare is a medical facility that is able to handle emergencies and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Typically, urgent care doesn’t have doctors but nurse practitioners … and can’t do any kind of diagnostic testing like X-rays or CT scans,” Martin said. “They usually don’t have a lab on site either.”

SignatureCare will accept all forms of insurance except Medicare and Medicaid. Free-standing ERs are legally not considered part of the hospital system and cannot accept government insurance plans.

“We are hoping that that will change at some point,” Martin said.

However, Martin still expects a high number of patients once the medical center opens.

“We look at the need for a facility like ours in the area and there is no facility like ours that we have seen in the Killeen area,” she said.

Depending on the number of patients, additional staff will be added.

“There is no limit of the amount of people we can see,” Martin said.

“If it is extremely busy, then we will call in additional staff so that the wait time won’t be compromised.”

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