When Minutes Matter: New Grayslake Emergency Center

New Grayslake Emergency Center Brings Peace of Mind to Lake County

If you live in Lake County, then you know that the region is booming. Despite this growth, for some residents having an emergency still means a long ambulance ride.

But that’s about to change. Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital has received state approval to transform its Grayslake Acute Care Center to the freestanding Grayslake Emergency Center — one of only a handful of centers in the state that can offer emergency care without being physically connected to a full-service hospital.

Residents receive outstanding care faster, because for some cases paramedics won’t have to bypass the center to continue on to a hospital. The change is expected to be in place by October 2009.


A Hospital Emergency Room without the Hospital

According to Dr. Jack Franaszek, Medical Director of Emergency Services at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, there’s little difference between a full-service hospital emergency room and the new freestanding center in Grayslake.

“The same care that’s brought to bear in a hospital emergency room is available now, right here, in Grayslake,” he says. “It won’t look different to most people, but we’ve been steadily making the necessary changes in staffing and equipment.”

The Grayslake Emergency Center will be able to accept ambulances for what are known as Basic Life Support emergencies, which include broken bones, deep cuts, bronchitis and other serious conditions requiring emergency care.

“We started out here as an Acute Care Center able to treat coughs, colds and non-urgent problems 24/7,” says Dawn Frank, R.N., Director of the new Grayslake Emergency Center. “The level of acuity [severity of conditions] kept growing, and clearly there was a need. Now, with life-saving equipment, emergency-trained physicians and certified nurses and radio communication with paramedics, we can fill that need. We’ve demonstrated that we’re here for our community.”


Faster Care and Stabilization

Dr. Franaszek explains that the new emergency center can serve as a place of stabilization.

“All emergencies are time-sensitive. But with some conditions, stabilizing can make a difference in saving someone’s life,” says Dr. Franaszek. “Depending on the type of problem, a person’s condition can deteriorate during a longer ride.”

The freestanding ER also creates a link between serious care situations and full hospital admittance.

“Without this center, a person might be driven to a full hospital. But as a freestanding ER, we can keep emergency patients here for more evaluation and testing without automatically sending them on to a hospital,” says Dr. Franaszek. “In many cases, they can get the care they need and we can let them go sooner — and they won’t be far from their home.”


Common Questions about the New Grayslake Emergency Center

Q: Can I still go to the Grayslake facility for a non-emergency problem?

A: Yes, you can still go to the center 24/7 for a non-emergency problem and receive care. However, it’s important to understand that you will now be treated at an Emergency Center and not an Acute Care Center. This means staff at the center will treat emergency patients before patients with non-emergency conditions. Also, you may be charged differently. Services at an Emergency Center cost more because insurance companies’ reimbursement often requires a higher deductible for emergency services.


Q: What happens if I need to be admitted to a full-service hospital?

A: The new Grayslake Emergency Center will have an ambulance on-site 24/7 to transfer patients for hospital admission, if needed.


Q: If I have an emergency and I’m conscious, should I drive myself?

A: Dr. Jack Franaszek advises calling 911 in most cases: “If you’re ever in any doubt, call an ambulance. If you have chest pain, for example, driving can make your condition worse. In many types of emergencies, you could become unconscious and make yourself a danger to others. A paramedic can stabilize you, and they make highly accurate determinations about what you need and where to go.”


Q: How do I know if the problem is a “real” emergency?

A: An emergency is often defined by the person experiencing it. Dawn Frank, R.N., explains: “Consider a baby with a fever in the middle of the night—it’s an emergency to that mother. In fact, we take pediatric emergencies very seriously. And we’re part of your local community, not a hospital that’s miles away. The Grayslake staff lives where you live, and many of us are parents, too. We have an interest in providing the best care as your friends and neighbors.”

Learn more about Emergency Services