Dr. Ronald Genova has a specific way of describing the type of patient that should come to his emergency room.
“You’re sick, but you’re not that sick. You don’t need to be in the major hospital,” he said.
Chest pains, fractures and sprains are the types of ailments he can easily treat at Phoenix ER and Medical Hospital.
But the highway accident victims with serious trauma should probably go to the bigger hospitals.
It’s a niche market Genova and his colleagues are attempting to target with their free-standing emergency room, located on the corner of Dobson and Queen Creek roads.
They can offer more services than an urgent care center, but they’re not quite on the same level as a Banner Health hospital.
Phoenix ER is somewhere in the middle — an area Genova thinks lets them still treat most health care needs.
“We do 80 percent of what a major hospital does,” Genova said. “We’re here to treat the low-to-moderate common things that happen in the community.”
Unlike the bigger facilities, Phoenix ER is independently owned by the doctors who work there — making Genova not only a care provider, but the hospital’s CEO.
It’s a business model that Genova hopes could potentially shake up the entire health care industry.
“We’re looking to change the face of medicine,” he said.
Free-standing emergency rooms were developed in the 1970s as a solution
for improving access to health care in rural areas.
The idea was to have a full-service emergency room operate in a location separate from a large hospital. They could be independently-owned, like Phoenix ER, or run by a bigger health care corporation.
These facilities have grown in popularity over the last decade, popping up more rapidly in Texas and Colorado. According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, the number of free-standing emergency rooms grew by 62 percent between 2009 and 2015.
As crowding in traditional emergency rooms has long been an issue in the health care world, a stand-alone facility was considered a strategy to divert patients away from the big hospitals.
Genova said his facility can offer a more enjoyable and efficient experience than the bigger emergency rooms.
“No one wants to sit in an emergency department for eight hours, getting coughed on and getting the flu,” the doctor said. “You want to be seen timely. You want your tests done reasonably.”
Phoenix ER is designed to look almost like a “micro-hospital.” It’s got patient beds and x-ray rooms like their competitors, except just on a smaller scale.
Genova said they can typically serve up to eight patients in their emergency room and admit a couple patients overnight. They have staff on-site 24/7, available to administer a variety of tests and treatments.
Though the facility has an ambulance bay, Phoenix ER is not considered a destination hospital for emergency transports.
Because they’re independently owned, Phoenix ER is presently not able to accept government-funded insurance like Medicaid and Medicare.
Arizona law obligates private insurers to cover emergency medical treatment, regardless of providers being in or out-of-network. Phoenix ER will still treat patients who don’t have insurance.
The rules, regulations and bureaucracy that surround modern health care were part of what motivated Genova and a group of other doctors to open their facility.
Doctors are made to feel like numbers in the current system, he said, and they don’t have as much autonomy with how they treat patients.
“We’re the ultimate patient advocates,” Genova said. “The problem is, the system doesn’t like it when we advocate for patients because it costs the system money.”
Genova and his partners decided to invest their own money to create their own system, despite the risk starting a business inherently brings.
“Everything we have personally is on the line here,” he added.
They examined up to 10 locations throughout the Valley before deciding Chandler would be the best fit. The doctors opened the hospital in March with a staff of about 70 and hope to expand in the near future.
More information about Phoenix ER can be found at phoenixerhospital.com.