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Understand: What are micro-hospitals?


Baptist Health System opening its eighth micro-hospital on the Southwest Side.

SAN ANTONIO – Micro-hospitals are built in areas where there’s a need but not a big enough demand for a traditional hospital.

The facilities are tailored to the needs of the specific communities they serve. Another key difference between micro-hospitals and traditional hospitals is size.

Baptist Health System is opening a micro-hospital called Baptist Emergency Hospital near Cupples Road and Highway 90. Its micro-hospital is about 20,000 square feet, compared to its downtown building which is approximately 580,000 square feet.

Understanding Micro-Hospitals

Micro-hospitals are good for minor emergencies, like if someone breaks a leg or if someone thinks they are having a heart attack.

Some facilities can also perform certain surgeries or treat specific conditions, such as heart disease, offering more services than a freestanding emergency room.

Matthew Stone, CEO of Baptist Health System, said the smaller hospitals help reduce wait times.

“It’s going to have six — what we call — fast track rooms for minor emergency conditions. It will also have eight full ER bays, taking care of patients with more intense issues and things like that. Plus, it has eight inpatient beds available,” Stone said.

Stone said micro-hospitals are cheaper than full-service hospitals because they’re not as large, and they aren’t set up to treat everything.

“Micro-hospitals will have certain specialties on-call. At ours, we will have internal medicine. We’ll also have cardiology available for both the ED (Emergency Department) and inpatient. You generally won’t have any specialties on call at a freestanding ED,” Stone said.

Another reason the facilities are cheaper is because micro-hospitals are in-network with insurance plans. Most free-standing emergency rooms are not.

“Freestanding EDs are not allowed to see Medicare, Medicaid or Tricare patients. And if they do and care for a patient, the patient is going to have the entire responsibility for those bills,” Stone said.

The Baptist Health System micro-hospital will open by the end of the month.