Residents in the Smyrna-Clayton areas now have access to a 24-hour area healthcare facility as Bayhealth's 24-hour Emergency Center in Smyrna at their Smyrna-Clayton Medical Services building on Carter Road officially opened Tuesday morning.

The $3.4 million eight-bed facility is staffed by specialists in emergency medicine and offers state-of-the-art technology and rapid access to emergency care.

"We are ready to handle whatever walks in the door," said Steven Talbot, DO, Medical Director at the Emergency Center.

The emergency center was built to answer the need expressed by residents, local EMS and state agencies.

A ribbon cutting was held earlier this month.

Bayhealth CEO Terry Murphy said at the ribbon cutting that last year, American Legion Ambulance 64 transported 2,800 patients to Kent General's emergency department. Ambulance 64, which covers a 62-mile radius surrounding Smyrna and Clayton, transported patients at a minimum of 50 minutes round trip. With the new facility, Bayhealth is cutting 12 miles and time off the trip to the closest ER.

Moreover, Murphy said in the last 10 years, the communities of Smyrna, Clayton, Middletown, and Townsend have experienced significant growth resulting in heavy demands on local primary and specialty care physicians. Murphy said last year 6,300 people traveled from these areas to Kent General for emergency care.

Plans for the emergency department were announced two years ago. Bayhealth received approval in September of 2011 for the plans from the Delaware Health Resources Board, who unanimously approved the application.

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