TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Anyone who has broken a bone or is having chest pains would rather get to help sooner than later and now people who live southeast of Tucson, in and near Vail, Corona de Tucson and Rita Ranch, have an emergency room nearby.
Northwest Medical Center says it Northwest Emergency Center at Vail can provide a higher level of care than an urgent care facility offers, and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The ER has 12 private patient rooms.
It's no bandaid.
"We see heart attacks, strokes, broken bones, lacerations, colds. We can treat anything here. This is essentially a hospital without the inpatient aspect," said Northwest Emergency Medicine Physician Dr. Andre McNulty.
He said it's the only freestanding ER in the Tucson area.
Before it opened on Wednesday, the nearest emergency room was about a half-hour drive from Vail, in Tucson.
Vail residents Terry and Kathleen Malone could have used this a year ago after Terry had back surgery.
"As a result I ended up calling the emergency room a couple of times--you know the paramedic guys--and it would've been nice to have that available," Terry said.
His wife, Kathleen agreed. "It's wonderful to have an emergency room here. We have an excellent fire department, excellent paramedics. We needed an emergency room."
The Northwest Emergency Center at Vail is staffed by emergency medicine doctors who say they have the tools they need, from radiology to lab services, to treat patients and send them home or to stabilize them for the ride to the hospital.
"For instance, if they had difficulty breathing, we could intubate them and put them on life support and then have them transported by ambulance to another facility," McNulty said. "In the case of a heart attack or a stroke, we say time is tissue."
Dr. McNulty says about 80 percent of people who come to the ER don't need to be admitted to a hospital.
"I think the main thing is just the convenience factor. So no one wants to drive the 25 or 30 minutes to get to Tucson when they can be treated right here," McNulty said.
Vail resident Margie Inzana thinks it's about time. "I think it's a great idea. This area needs something like that. I wish they'd put more. They should put doctors, dentists, everything so we don't have to go down the other way."
Dr. McNulty said having an ER in the Vail area could be lifesaving.
The new ER is at 10146 East Old Vail Road, off Houghton.