Providence Health-Fairfield ER opens

After a grand opening for the community (above) on Dec. 13, the new Providence Health-Fairfield Emergency Room on Tuesday.

WINNSBORO – As the baton passed from Fairfield Memorial Hospital (FMH) to Providence Health-Fairfield Emergency Room on Tuesday, citizens in Fairfield County were not without health care service for a minute. As FMH officially closed its doors forever, the county’s new ER opened its doors the same day to a new world of state-of-the-art emergency health care for Fairfield County.

The opening of Providence Health’s emergency room comes after almost three years of planning and cooperation between the FMH board and administration, Fairfield County administrative staff and Providence Health and legislative intervention from the county’s former State Sen. Creighton Coleman and former State Rep. MaryGail Douglas.

And there could be more good news to come as the FMH board continues to market (through ROI Commercial out of Columbia) the available 25-bed hospital building for another health care entity.

The new ER facility, located across from Bi-Lo, near the intersection of US 321 and Highway 34, includes 12,000-square-feet for emergency services, featuring six exam rooms (including four treatment rooms and two for future expansion), two trauma rooms, an onsite laboratory, imaging services such as computerized tomography (CT) scan, ultrasound and x-ray.

An additional 6,000 square feet of space is available for future expansion of services as needs in the community are identified.

If the new facility to provide continuity of health care in the Fairfield community was a long time coming, some close to the project say it is a modern miracle that it came at all as hundreds of other rural hospitals have closed in recent years, three of those in South Carolina. But for the infusion of millions of dollars from the county in recent years, Fairfield Memorial might have shuttered much earlier.

Funded by $12M from LifePoint Health for construction of the new facility and $10M ($1M a year for the next 10 years) from Fairfield County, the free standing Providence Health ER was also made possible in part by nearly $4M in transformational funding from South Carolina’s Hospital Transformation Program which supports rural access to healthcare resources.

Those transformational dollars, appropriated by the legislature, are earmarked to go to large hospitals like Providence to encourage them to partner with rural hospitals that are in danger of closing. Because talks between the hospital and Providence were still in the early stages as the deadline for application for the funds loomed, it was through the significant efforts of Coleman and Douglas that the house and senate extended the application deadline for the Providence project.

“This Emergency Room is a shining example of what can occur when multiple organizations work together to do what’s right for the community,” Providence-Northeast Hospital CEO Lindy White said in a statement on Tuesday. “The new facility will serve the county’s patients during their times of greatest need and, at the same time, keep them close to home.

“It is a blessing and an honor,” White said, “to serve such a welcoming part of the country.”