Black River Medical Center, an 8-bed emergency room facility in Poplar Bluff, will fall under the direction of St. Francis Healthcare System early next month, and instead offer urgent and primary care services to the region.
St. Francis CEO Maryann Reese says this merger was prompted by an odd statistic: only 25% of Black River’s current patients pose a real need for emergency care, with an overwhelming 75% qualifying as urgent care cases. Additionally, over the past year, they transferred nearly 530 patents to other care facilities because it lacked the resources to meet the needs of their emergency room visitors.
“Those emergency cases were already going to the right places,” says Reese. “By transitioning to an urgent care clinic, we think patients will receive care directly from those who can best serve them.”
In the event of an emergency, the Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center is still available, explains Reese, as is St. Francis in Cape Girardeau.
“Obviously, St. Francis is further away, so if someone’s having chest pain, they need to get to an emergency room right away,” says Reese. “If it’s walking-type things - earaches, coughs, even broken bones - we can do it at the urgent care center.
The new facility will offer an uncommonly wide range of laboratory and radiology services - including CT, MRI, nuclear medicine, mammography, and ultrasound - in the same space that Black River is currently occupying. It will also be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Reese adds that, with the number of primary care doctors shrinking in rural regions, this change should allow more options for their service area.
“As a regular healthcare provider, St. Francis understands the practical and economic challenges of practicing medicine in rural areas,” says Reese. “There’s been many closures of hospitals across the country, and many of our rural populations are underserved in terms of medical resources.”
On behalf of St. Francis, Reese says they’re thankful for the opportunity to serve the residents of Poplar Bluff, and it’s a “very, very important” market for them to enter into.
“Most of the primary care physicians in Poplar Bluff are actually St. Francis medical partners,” says Reese.
The Black River Medical Center emergency room will close at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 9 and will reopen on Monday, Aug. 12 as St. Francis Health Center - Poplar Bluff.