When to go to a free-standing emergency department – or somewhere else

Jan. 11, 2023

This paid piece is sponsored by Avera Health.

Avera’s emergency services are reflecting the city of Sioux Falls — they’re expanding.

Avera Medical Group Family Health Center – Dawley Farm, Avera’s newest facility that includes a 24/7 free-standing emergency department, opened earlier this month, making it the fourth site for emergency care in the city.

Others include:

Yet when a crisis strikes, we all might wonder: Where should we go?

“Anytime you’re experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain or stroke signs, you should seek care immediately. Call 911 or go to the closest ED,” said Lee Bollock, assistant vice president of Avera emergency services at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center.

Avera placed its EDs in various parts of Sioux Falls to help patients and families get the right level of care – right away. “Time is of essence in any emergency,” Bollock said.

“We’re fully equipped to stabilize any patient, no matter what, at any location,” said Dr. Jared Friedman, Avera clinical vice president of emergency medicine and an emergency medicine physician.

All Avera EDs have residency-trained physicians and complete response teams, as well as telemedicine resources to augment those professionals in the treatment space.

When to go to an ED or when to wait

Emergency care is the No. 1 choice for serious symptoms, such as:

  • Chest pain and shortness of breath, which could indicate heart attack.
  • Severe allergic reactions.
  • Sudden onset of pain.
  • Serious diabetic complications.
  • Obviously dislocated joints or broken bones.
  • Possible stroke signs, such as slurred speech, drooping facial features or right- or left-side-only paralysis.

You should never delay care when experiencing emergency warning signs such as chest pain. However, minor cuts, cold and flu signs, sprains and strains, and chronic condition management are best addressed at your primary care provider’s office or at an urgent care clinic. Bollock said the coordination between all Avera care teams is consistent and easy for patients to navigate.

If you are able to hold off until your clinic opens the next morning, it’s best to wait so you see your regular provider who knows you best. If a health care need happens and you need care outside of normal clinic hours, Avera urgent care is best. Avera offers regular and orthopedic urgent care. For a mental health crisis, 24/7 specially designed care is available at Avera’s Behavioral Health Urgent Care.

“If you present to us at a free-standing ED and need care for stroke, heart attack or traumatic injury, we’ll stabilize you in the ED and get you to the best possible care,” Friedman said. When transport in necessary, this ambulance ride to another Avera facility is free.

Sometimes, an illness or injury can wait until the next day, even if the temptation to go for emergency care for fussy baby’s ear infection is overpowering.

“Life-threatening emergency care is our focus,” Bollock said. “When you call 911 and an ambulance comes, our regional emergency medical services teams know where to go.”

Bollock and Friedman agree that people should weigh in on the side of caution. “When in doubt – come in and get help,” Friedman said.

Expanding the safety net of emergency services

The growth of emergency services reflects on Avera’s mission – and its capability.

“We consider our emergency services as a 24-hour safety net for everyone we serve, for their health and well-being,” Friedman said. He added that strong teams with many skills allow another free-standing ED to thrive. “It’s a new front door for care,” he said.

The new emergency department at Dawley Farm is comparable to services offered on Marion Road, which opened in 2017. Avera integrates staff from all of its emergency teams at each site to share knowledge and experience, as well as lessons learned.

“Our Dawley Farm ED was designed and built to replicate the success we’ve seen at Marion Road,” Friedman said. “We’re glad to expand services to a growing part of Sioux Falls, and we expect that patients from many surrounding communities such as Brandon, South Dakota; Larchwood, Iowa; and Hills, Minnesota; will use this new facility.”

Learn more about Avera emergency services.