Backus Hospital breaks ground on stand-alone emergency room in Plainfield

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Plainfield - posted Tue., May. 24, 2011
Officials break ground on the Backus Emergency Care Center on Route 12 in Plainfield. (L-R)Todd Renz, Pres. of O,R & L Construction; Backus Director of Pastoral Care Sister Rita Johnson; Backus Emegency Dept. Clinical Director Sandee Gelven; Backus Emergency Services Medical Director Dr. Robert Sidman; Plainfield Selectman George Krecidlo; Plainfield 1st Selectman Paul Sweet; Backus President and CEO Dave Whitehead; Backus Board member Anthony Joyce; O,R& L Project Manager Clifford Lennox. - Contributed Photo

Backus Hospital held a groundbreaking ceremony on Route 12 in Plainfield on May 20 for the construction of a new stand-alone Emergency Room. The $7 million center should be completed by the spring of 2012. Board certified emergency room physicians and nurses will staff the center 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will have 12 treatment rooms, a wide range of diagnostic imaging tools, a laboratory and a convenient care center, where less serious medical cases can be treated.

Communications Director for Backus Hospital Shawn Mawhiney said that the hospital is trying to serve the needs of the community with the center. The facility will service the towns of Brooklyn, Killingly, Canterbury, Sterling, Plainfield, Griswold, Lisbon and Voluntown. “People in northern New London County and southern Windham County have to travel 15 to 25 minutes for emergency care,” he said. “That isn’t a good standard of care. The emergency care center fits perfectly for the needs in this part of the state. People who live in eastern Connecticut should have access to emergency care closer to home.”

The groundbreaking ceremony was held at 3 p.m., followed by festivities in the field next to Plainfield Town Hall. Traumaroo, the Backus Hospital mascot, strolled the grounds. Crash test dummies mingled with children. The hospital’s remote control ambulance was sent spinning out around the track. The hospital tries innovative ways to reach out to kids and start talking about the dangers of bicycling without helmets or drinking and driving.

“We try to liven things up for them,” Mawhiney said. “We try to capture their attention and send important messages.”

The hospital’s Mobile Resource Center provided free blood pressure screenings at the ceremony. The van is a medical center on wheels, according to Mawhiney. “It allows us to bring health services and education outside the walls of the hospital and into the community we serve,” he said.

“We’ve always had a presence in Plainfield,” Mawhiney said. “We want to enhance that presence and make the community as safe and healthy as possible.”

Emergency room visits to Backus Hospital have risen from approximately 40,000 to 65,000 visits per year. “There’s an increasing number of uninsured patients that aren’t going to primary care doctors, so they end up in the emergency room when they get ill,” said Mawhiney.

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