FARGO – Doctors, nurses, and other staff aren't the only ones preparing for the big move to the new Sanford Medical Center Fargo.
The folks at F-M Ambulance also have some changes to make, now that the emergency room is moving, to get patients the care they need as quickly as possible.
Sanford Emergency Services Vice President Susan Jarvis says some people, particularly in North Fargo, have shared concerns about the emergency room moving away from here and across town.
"We have heard people say, oh you're moving and it seems like you're going to be so far away," said Jarvis.
But it's not about how quickly you can get to the emergency room, it's about how quickly an ambulance can get to you.
"Anything they can do in an ER for those first critical minutes, we can do in the back of an ambulance or on the scene," said Sherm Syverson, F-M Ambulance.
F-M Ambulance stations seven ambulances throughout the metro during the peak times of noon to midnight. When the new hospital opens, they'll likely increase that number to 10.
They've ordered two new ambulances and are training in paramedics to handle the additional workload of transporting between three Sanford locations.
"We are anticipating that the new hospital that Sanford is building will increase our call volume by approximately three-thousand calls a year," said Sherm.
They're also mapping routes to the new ER with the help of their electronic deployment model.
"Every ambulance has GPS on it, or AVL, they call it. And it's getting smarter every time it runs over that road segment," said Don Martin, F-M Ambulance.
That system does everything. It tells them where to station ambulances based on "heat maps," using data collected over time, then it tells them which ambulance to send to an incoming call for help.
"The darker the color, that means the computer is going to predict where the next 9-1-1 call is going to come in," said Martin. "So, this one is going on a call right now. It just got dispatched. You can see it's got the lights on it."
So for response times, F-M Ambulance says it's a wash.
As far as getting to the hospital, 25 percent of patients come from outside the F-M area. The new medical center is alongside an Interstate and it has its own dedicated lane for ambulances approaching the ER.
"Actually, we feel like we are going to be able to be more centrally-located and more quickly accessible to people that need us," said Jarvis.
Now, it's just a matter of testing things out and finalizing plans before the big day in July.
The downtown emergency department will close July 25 at 5 a.m.
The ER at the new medical center will open at the same time.