Growing South Hillsborough Gets A New ER

Manatee Memorial Hospital opening full-service ER at Sun City Center

Since 2010, the population in Hillsborough County has increased more than 24 percent to 1.5 million. Much of that growth has taken place in the southern portion of the county, where civic leaders expect the population to jump another 150,000 before 2040.

ER at Sun City Center Treatment Room

The ER at Sun City Center will include 12 treatment areas and a physician on duty 24/7.

To help meet that area’s expanding need for medical services, Manatee Memorial Hospital will soon open a 10,884-square-foot, full-service emergency department in Wimauma.

The ER at Sun City Center, an extension of Manatee Memorial Hospital, is the first freestanding emergency department established by Manatee Memorial. It will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays. The address is 16504 US 301 S., behind Walmart.

“By expanding our emergency services, we can better meet the needs of our growing community and provide access to emergency care where it is needed,” says Manatee Memorial Hospital CEO, Tom McDougal.

The facility will have 12 treatment areas, including six exam rooms and three rapid medical exam spaces. It will also feature a full-service laboratory as well as X-ray, CT and ultrasound services. A physician will always be on duty to address patient needs.

“The facility will offer the same level of care as a hospital-based emergency room and will provide care for a range of health issues, from minor scrapes and sprains to chest pain and stroke symptoms,” says Joseph Hwang, FACHE, chief operating officer at Manatee Memorial Hospital. “Doctors will also be capable of treating or providing stabilizing treatment for all major conditions that present to an emergency room.”

Headshot Tom McDougal, Manatee Memorial Hospital CEO

“By expanding our emergency services, we can better meet the needs of our growing community and provide access to emergency care where it is needed.”
– Tom McDougal,
Manatee Memorial Hospital CEO

A Growing Trend

Freestanding emergency departments are nothing new. The concept dates to the early 1970s, when big-city hospitals began placing them in rural areas that lacked acute care facilities.

At first, their development grew slowly. Since 2008, however, a surge has taken place, with the number of facilities increasing from 222 to 566 across 32 states by 2016. Estimates call for 2,000 to be in place by 2023.

“This is the wave of the future,” says Tiffany Hughes, director of business development at Manatee Memorial Hospital. “You’re going to continue to see more of these freestanding emergency facilities down the road.”

The fact that Manatee Memorial Hospital is part of the trend should come as no surprise. It has long been providing advanced treatment options.

For example, Manatee Memorial was the first hospital in the state to perform 800 procedures in which the Watchman™ left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) was implanted into patients with atrial fibrillation, including 500 by one physician.

More recently, Manatee Memorial was among the first in the region to offer Barostim™ Baroreflex Activation Therapy, which uses neuromodulation – the power of the brain and nervous system – to treat systolic heart failure.

“It is important to us to be using advanced technology because it is our goal to provide the community we serve with the best care possible,” Tiffany states. “Our cardiac program is one very good example of that.

“We are hitting thresholds and benchmarks through that program that are exceeding other programs all around the country. That’s why Manatee Memorial Hospital is the most decorated hospital in Manatee County.

“We have the highest number of accreditations and awards for services in the county. Those are determined based on performance, criteria, quality metrics and participation in different organizations to make sure that we meet those accreditation needs.

“We pride ourselves in going through those processes to make sure we are providing the best care and treatment possible for our community and patients.”

Community Relationships

The spring opening of the ER at Sun City Center is another example of that goal to provide the community with advanced care and services.

“This is an opportunity for Manatee Memorial Hospital to deliver a service to a portion of the community that may not always have access to the kind of care received at an emergency room based on residents’ distance from a full-service hospital,” Tiffany adds.

“It’s also important to point out that since the COVID-19 pandemic started, there have been many people in communities all across the country who have expressed fear about going to an emergency room connected to a full-service hospital. People might feel more comfortable going to a freestanding ER than a full-service facility.”

The primary difference, she says, is that the ER at Sun City Center doesn’t have an inpatient option. Patients needing further treatment will be transferred to Manatee Memorial Hospital or have transportation arranged to another hospital of their choice, so the patient experiences no delay in care, Tiffany assures.

“We are excited to join this community and provide the support and medical care that is needed. We’re honored to be accepted into the community and look forward to providing residents of all ages with these much-needed services.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Rendering/photos courtesy of Manatee Memorial Hospital. mkb

As seen in Brandon/Sun City Edition of Florida Health Care News.


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