Long-awaited emergency center opens in Sequatchie Valley - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Long-awaited emergency center opens in Sequatchie Valley

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DUNLAP, TN (WRCB) - It's an important day for thousands of people living in the Sequatchie Valley. They've been without an emergency room for the last four years. That's meant critical care has been around half an hour away, time that's precious in life-threatening situations. That changed Tuesday. Erlanger opened up its sixth location there and has already seen multiple patients in its ER.

"Thirty minutes to get from where I wrecked at to the hospital and Life Force was waiting on me when I got there," Iwilla Lewis said.

Iwilla Lewis collided with a semi on Dayton Mountain last year, breaking her sternum and six ribs. With no ER in Dunlap, an ambulance had to take her to Pikeville, then Life Force flew her to Chattanooga.

"It's bad because I couldn't get any morphine or anything until I saw a doctor," Lewis said.

She's relieved no one else will be forced to endure that painful wait. Erlanger opened its Sequatchie Valley Emergency Department Tuesday.

Local leaders have been trying to bring the abandoned facility back to live since the old Grand View Medical Center closed there in 2010. An estimated 15,000 patients will seek help here over the next year.

"That's the most important thing, it's going to save lives," Dunlap Mayor Dwain Land said.

"A new CAT scan, new X-ray unit, all new laboratory medical equipment. This is a comprehensive center of emergency medicine," Erlanger Health System CEO Kevin Spiegel said.

On-site ambulance service and Life Force heli-pad means getting patients the critical care they need much faster.

"it's a comfort for the town," resident Avery Land said.

"It's a wonderful thing to come to Dunlap," Lewis said.

Leaders say it will also make way for economic development, saying not having one has been turning prospective industries away.

"That's the first thing they want to know, where the 24 hour emergency care is because of accidents," Mayor Land said.

It also adds dozens of physician, nurse and technician jobs.

"I can't believe it happened. I'm so happy. This is one of my best days of being mayor. This is it," Mayor Land said.

Leaders say this is the first stand alone emergency department of its kind in the state. Sequatchie County got a $500,000 grant to assist with it.

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