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Arlington Hospital Closes Emergency Room

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ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM)- The JPS Diagnostic and Surgery Hospital on New York Avenue in Arlington is no longer a hospital. “We as an administration saw a need to make a change over there and we did everything we could to make that change,” explained John Peter Smith CEO, Robert Earley.

The investigation started after Earley appeared before Tarrant County Commissioners, where he voiced concerns that the emergency room at the Arlington facility was not really an emergency room. “I have constantly felt concern that there is an emergency room over there that is an emergency room on paper. It’s not an emergency room that I think efficiently and effectively acts as an emergency room,” Earley told the Commissioners in February of this year.

Despite eight posted red and white emergency signs, patients who went to the ER at the facility were greeted by a locked door and a call box. Even Earley admitted that the emergency signs were a bit misleading. “People expect when they come into a JPS facility, it’s going to look just like the main campus’ emergency room, and it didn’t,” he added.

According to documents by the Texas Department of State Health Services, a patient was transported in August, 2009 from the Arlington jail to the JPS Diagnostic and Surgery Hospital. The ambulance crew rang the bell in the back and then knocked on the front doors. They also telephoned inside the hospital. Finally, police officers sounded their sirens, but were still unable to gain entry. The patient was eventually taken to JPS’ main hospital in Fort Worth.

Two months later, a man, who had stopped breathing, was taken to the hospital in Arlington. According to the complaint, the building was not open, so an ambulance transported the patient to another hospital where he later died. “One would look at that and say, why don’t I just to go out there and take the emergency room signs down? That seems logical, but we followed the letter of the law and we followed every guideline,” said Earley.

The CEO says JPS worked with 15 different state and federal agencies to make the change. JPS administrators say the process started in November, 2009. However, the official paperwork to downgrade the hospital to a day-surgery center wasn’t filed until July 27 of this year. The emergency signs finally came down August 19 and the main sign at the front entrance was changed from “Diagnostic and Surgery Hospital” to “Surgical Center.”

Tarrant County Commissioner, Andy Nguyen, also raised concerns back in February. Nguyen says he’s pleased the signs are gone, but he had hoped for a greater sense of urgency. “It took a lot longer than I personally would have liked. Unfortunately, in the real world we have regulatory reasons,” the Commissioner added.

The former hospital reopened this week as a day-surgery center with daytime hours only.

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