CHICAGO (AP) — Emergency rooms without hospitals attached may be coming to more Illinois communities. They're called free-standing emergency centers and they're a way for hospitals to expand their reach and compete for patients.
Patients who live far from a full-service hospital may appreciate the convenience of a stand-alone ER nearby staffed with doctors and nurses 24 hours a day.
But some people are concerned these new types of health facilities may increase costs. Free-standing ERs generally charge more than urgent care centers and retail clinics, which can handle many non-life-threatening emergencies.
Illinois now has five free-standing emergency centers. Two hospital systems are competing to build another in the Chicago suburb of Frankfort. State lawmakers last year extended a sunset date for new licenses for free-standing ERs.