GARNER — In its first month, Garner’s new WakeMed HealthPlex treated more patients than expected, validating the hospital’s belief that the emergency department would fulfill an unmet need in the area.
In the first month after its Aug. 19 opening, the facility treated 1,465 patients. After a slightly slower August, the last few weeks have seen roughly 52 patients per day, a pace of nearly 19,000 per year. That would exceed the upper limit of the 12,000-15,000 expected patients by about 27 percent.
“The area had huge growth that didn’t have these kinds of health care offerings convenient to them,” WakeMed spokeswoman Kristin Kelly Gruman said.
Gruman said the influx of patients has not substantially increased wait times, Gruman said. Online listings of wait times show the Garner HealthPlex on par with other similar facilities in Brier Creek and Apex as well as WakeMed’s Cary Hospital. North Raleigh and WakeMed’s main campus displayed much longer wait times.
“We’re built for more patients than expected,” Kelly said.
Late on a Friday night, for example, the constantly updating list had Garner’s wait time at 16 minutes, Briar Creek at 18 minutes, Apex at 24, North Raleigh at 49 minutes, and more than 2 hours at the main campus.
Gruman said the patient numbers tracked those of the first HealthPlex, the North Raleigh location built in 2009. That has become a high-volume facility, she said. Before it opened, the hospital projected the volume to roughly double in the first decade.
According to WakeMed data, roughly half of the Garner patients either could not have been treated at an urgent care center or at least required in-depth evaluation.
About half of patients have been 35 years old or younger. About 30 percent of patients were 18-34, and another 18 percent were younger.
WakeMed invested roughly $17 million in developing the HealthPlex, which has 10 private treatment rooms as well as imaging and lab capabilities. It is backed by Wake County’s only Level 1 Trauma Center.
The site also features medical offices. Wake Specialty Physicians-Garner Primary Care opened at the Healthplex Monday , along with WakeMed Faculty Physicians-Carolina Cardiology. In the following weeks, Wake Specialty Physicians-ENT Head & Neck Surgery and Wake Specialty Physicians-Urology will also open in the facility.
Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter: @garnercleveland