University Hospitals plans to open its new emergency department at the corner of Routes 43 and 261 in Kent on July 10, according to hospital officials.

An open house is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 8.

When the emergency department opens, the drive times for area ambulance crews and residents will be cut down significantly, according to fire officials from Kent and Brimfield, That will enable ambulances to get back in service in their coverage areas more quickly, increasing overall safety for residents near the facility.

"The fire department is very excited about having us so close," said Robin Goldinger, the incoming manager of the facility, of the Kent Fire Department. "Brimfield is the same; it's a four-minute turnaround to get them back in service."

Once there, patients will register and either be taken into triage to determine the severity of their problems or be assessed in the waiting room, according to Goldinger.

"We have a nurse in triage 24 hours a day; they can prioritize things," she said. "We do plan on having a lot of bedside triage. Nurse practitioners can come out to the lobby and see people out there and order X-rays, if necessary."

All that triage work is geared toward quickly identifying and treating more serious cases and funneling less serious illnesses and injuries into the urgent care system, said Goldinger.

The equipment will be state-of-the art; nurses will be familiar with it, she added.

"We did two competency days with all the vendors that provided all the new medical equipment," she said during a June 23 tour of the renovated facility. "All of our nurses but one come from within the UH health system."

During those training days, Julia Skarbinski, UH chief nursing officer, said nurses become certified on all the equipment at the facility.

"They actually go through, step-by-step, and they're validated that they know how to work on it," she said. "The best way to be prepared is to practice."

The nurses also have gone through an orientation process at UH Portage Medical Center in Ravenna, adding Goldinger. The physicians who will serve at the department also have spent time at UH Portage Medical Center getting to know the nursing staff.

The facility itself is divided into two halves, one area for emergencies and the other for urgent care, which deals with less serious medical problems. The facility, which underwent about $6.5 million in renovations to convert it from an unused, former surgery center, includes eight beds on the emergency side and six beds on the urgent care side, according to Joe Wilson, manager of facilities operations for UH.

The facility will include two specialized areas, one with obstetrics and gynecological services which will serve as a women's center, the other for decontaminating people covered in chemicals or other hazardous materials, according to Wilson.

The department's proximity to the medical arts building next door provides quick access to an imaging center offering X-rays, MRIs, CT scans and other services, he added. That building will be accessible via a walkway between the facilities.

William Benoit, chief operating officer at UH Portage Medical Center, estimated the new emergency department and urgent care center will likely provide about 100 new jobs for Kent.