LAKELAND, Fla. — Lakeland Regional Health has the second busiest emergency department in the country, that’s according to a new report.
ER physician Dr. Hal Escowitz has seen the growth of Lakeland Regional Health, since he first started practicing there 20 years.
“The footprint of the emergency department has grown tremendously from when I first started practicing many years ago,” said Escowitz.
Now LRH has most emergency room visits in the nation. New data from Becker's Healthcare shows it saw 190,581 visits last year. This is partly because the hospital is the only trauma center in Polk County.
“Gun shot wounds, stab wounds, and the vast majority of what we see are due to motor vehicle collision,” said Escowitz.
Dr. Escowitz tells ABC Action News also contributing to this high patient volume is short wait times and having the greatest number of beds and providers county-wide.
“As the volumes increased over time, over the years we’ve expanded coverage, we’ve expanded hours, we’ve added physicians, we’ve added nurses.”
Dr. Escowitz said many people who don’t have access to primary care will visit the ER. While COVID-19 strained ER departments across the country, physicians at LRH were prepared.
“I don’t know if anyone was emotionally prepared for that and what we saw but we were certainly prepared operationally,” said Escowitz.
And as Polk County experiences a surge in population growth, the hospital is building new sites to expand access to healthcare.