FORT WORTH — MedStar ambulances know the fastest route anywhere in Fort Worth, but getting to a hospital from the north side can be tricky.
"When it's close to rush hour, it can be fairly bad," said paramedic Grant Leiter.
Last year, MedStar answered more than 5,000 service calls in North Fort Worth. More than 80 percent of those patients had to be transported to hospitals downtown or outside the area, delaying critical care.
"The quicker we can get someone to a professional medical center, the better their chances at recovery," Leiter said.
On November 30, the drive to the emergency room gets shorter. North Hills Hospital is opening The ER at Alliance.
"We are not an urgent care center or a doc-in-the-box," said executive director Michelle Underwood. "We are a full service emergency room department."
The ER will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the northeast corner of North Tarrant Parkway and Interstate 35W. It has a full staff of nurses and at least one board-certified emergency physician on duty at all times. There are also independent labs and imaging rooms for on-site diagnosis.
It fills a void outside Loop 820 where families have grown, and facilities have fallen behind. The hospital expects a good portion of its patients to be pediatric cases.
Mary Ellen Strickland is a nurse who lives nearby. She has been waiting for emergency options for years.
"As a parent, if I am not sure what to do, now I have someplace safe to get answers and provide good quality care for my family," she said.
The ER at Alliance anticipates close to 1,500 visits per month, and is striving for an average wait time of less than eight minutes to see a doctor.
MedStar also expects to cut its service cycle times, which have increased as the area has grown and traffic has worsened. Last year, it averaged 65 minutes per call — that's the time from dispatch to drop off for each patient. The average in 2009 was 63 minutes.