Monday, August 24, 2015

Less than a month after its debut of Quickcare at its Douglas clinic, Copper Queen Community Hospital announced this week a decision to proceed with a $6.5 million freestanding emergency room in the border city.

Hospital CEO Jim Dickson said the facility is expected to be up and running by the first quarter of 2016. Since the closing of Cochise Regional Hospital in July, Dickson said the Bisbee-based Copper Queen emergency room has seen a 65 percent increase in patient visits.

“We have anticipated the closure of the Cochise Regional Hospital for years and negotiated with the City of Douglas for property which would allow a freestanding emergency department,” Dickson said. “We were talking about what we could do as a safety net for Douglas. The city really wanted a modern hospital downtown where it could be accessible to community, and that’s the kind of planning we did.”

Douglas Mayor Danny Ortega Jr. noted that Dickson agreed to assist with a feasibility study to determine whether or not the city would one day need a full hospital.

Until then, the proposed building is being designed a national firm that has specialized in nearly 60 emergency care facilities across the United States. The building will feature seven rooms with four observation beds and will be located at the existing Douglas Medical Complex on Fifth Street.

Dickson said the emergency department will offer 24-hour radiology, laboratory diagnostics, and telemedicine for consults from cardiologists, pediatricians, and neurologists.

“Having a freestanding emergency care facility and Quickcare service will serve the residents of Douglas with faster and often more cost-effective care for illnesses and traumas,” said Dickson.

In accordance with Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) guidelines, the facility will act as an extension of Copper Queen’s existing emergency department.

Dickson says that employees have already been hired for the new emergency room, as well as the growing Douglas Quickcare. An additional 15, or more, employees are expected to be hired in the near future.

Dickson and the CQCH team plan to visit with local organizations and the City Council for status presentations on the upcoming project.

“We want to develop support for what we’re doing,” Dickson said. “By helping Douglas and Bisbee together, we’ll maintain health care for all of us on the east side of the county.”

“I think it’s great news for the city of Douglas,” said Ortega. “Copper Queen has found some investment to help with this study and so in the long run it was bad having the hospital closure, but Douglas is going to have a healthcare facility that is better than ever.”

City Manager Carlos De La Torre says he is very enthused by this new project.

“We need to make sure that the plan is implemented,” said De La Torre. “We are here to facilitate that for happening as soon as it can. We have to continue to work forward and setting up the feasibility of a small hospital, that is the next step.”