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Edmond council denies plan change for emergency room

EDMOND — Plans for a free-standing emergency room at Mercy Edmond I-35 were denied this week by members of the Edmond City Council.

Mayor Charles Lamb and council member Darrell Davis voted to amend the city zoning plan to allow for a $15 million emergency department to be built on 5.02 acres on the south side of Mercy Edmond I-35, about a half mile south of 15th Street on the west side of I-35.

Council members Elizabeth Waner, Nick Massey and Victoria Caldwell voted against the amendment. Nearby homeowners had complained about additional noise they anticipated would be coming from the proposed one-story building with eight examination rooms and a trauma room, which would be open 24 hours a day.

The project would require the removal of nearly three acres of trees for the 13,600-square-foot building and parking lot.

Lighting was the second concern of nearby residents about the level-four emergency room, the first proposal of its kind for the Mercy health system.

Level-four emergency rooms are designed to treat patients who require urgent evaluation by a physician but whose conditions do not pose an immediate threat to their lives, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

OU Medical Edmond has a level-three emergency room. At Integris Edmond, across the street from Mercy, the emergency room is a level three and level one for chest pains, said Edmond Deputy Fire Chief Chris Denton.

Since Mercy opened next door to Fire Station No. 4, Denton said during the meeting, firefighters have made 104 medical calls to the wellness center because people went to the center and found out it was not a traditional hospital with an emergency department. The situations resulted in 911 calls and a response by paramedics, Denton said.

Austin Burton, of CEC/Infrastructure Solutions for Mercy, told council members they have worked extensively with neighbors to address lighting and noise problems. He assured council members the sirens would be turned off once ambulances entered the property.

"We have thoroughly discussed the light and sound with the neighbors," Burton said. "We have met with most of the neighbors."

Four pages of responses to neighbors' concerns were turned over to the city council. No homeowners spoke in favor or in opposition during this week's council meeting, but did speak during previous meetings.

No helipad was planned for the property, Burton said.

"I am uncomfortable where you want to put it," Waner said. "I think there's a lot more noise than we were told about when we did Mercy years ago."

Caldwell said she understood the new concept, but had concerns about patients possibly going to one emergency room and having to be moved to a different emergency room.

"We have got a hospital across the street," Caldwell said. "I would like to see emergency rooms more evenly spaced for the community."

Diana Baldwin

Diana Baldwin has been an Oklahoma journalist since 1976. She covered the Oklahoma City bombing and covered the downfall of Oklahoma City police forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist misidentifying evidence. She wrote the original stories about the... Read more ›

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