New emergency center proposal in New Kent facing road block

A new emergency center aimed at helping thousands of patients could be coming to New Kent County but the proposal is facing a road block.

“I had a reaction to some food and my doctor said I should go to the hospital, to the emergency room and have it checked out,” said New Kent resident Bill O’Keefe.

O’Keefe has lived in New Kent County for more than 10 years. He’s a big supporter of having a freestanding emergency department in the area. After having a reaction to food he was rushed to the nearest hospital.

“By the time the ambulance got here and transported me there it was a better part of 45-50 minutes,” said O’Keefe.

HCA Virginia is proposing a new emergency center in New Kent County, located right off Interstate 64, with CT and MRI services, similar to HCA’s emergency center in Goochland.

“This center will certainly lead to saving lives and faster medical treatment,” said O’Keefe.

In a letter of support for the new facility, New Kent’s fire chief says there has been a 44% increase in emergency calls since 2005. He says a new center will cut down on response time and could be the difference between life and death for some patients.

“When you’re in an emergency, every minute counts,” said Delegate Chris Peace.

But the proposal has hit a speed bump. CT and MRI machines have to be approved by the state. It’s part of a program to contain health care costs. The health department has recommended against approving the machines, saying 95% of the population in New Kent has access to those services within 30 minutes of their homes.

“Legislators like myself and others will be prepared to file legislation,” said Peace.

Peace who represents part of New Kent says he may take legislative action if the machines are not approved. He says he may seek to get rid of state approval for MRI and CT services.

The health commissioner will ultimately make the decision and is expected to do so in December.

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