Today, the Louisiana Department of Health (DHH) and a group of Baton Rouge-area hospitals announced changes to expand access to urgent and emergency room (ER) care for individuals in the Baton Rouge Community. Those changes include increasing and aligning access hours and capacity for urgent care visits at the LSU Health Baton Rouge urgent care clnic on North Foster Drive (effective March 23), other clinic service expansions and efforts by Baton Rouge-area hospitals to increase emergency department (ED) capacity.
The group, which met on Wednesday, Feb. 18, includes LDH, the Louisiana Governor's Office, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center (OLOL), Baton Rouge General Medical Center (BRG), Lane Regional Medical Center (LRMC), Ochsner Medical Center-Baton Rouge, Woman's Hospital and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF). Each organization discussed strategies for increasing emergency room access in anticipation of the March 31 closure of the Baton Rouge General Mid City ER.
The LSU Health Baton Rouge urgent care clinic located a mile and a half from the Baton Rouge General Mid City ER will increase its hours of operation to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week effective March 23. The new hours of operation were based on analyzing visit volumes at the area urgent care clinics and hospitals, including BRG Mid City ER, during the last three months of 2014. Additional personnel have been hired for this access expansion. Approximately 80 percent of the visits to the Baton Rouge General's Mid City ER, according to their own data, are non-emergent visits that could be seen at an urgent care or primary care clinic.
The LSU Health Baton Rouge North Campus Urgent Care Clinic is also expanding hours for advanced diagnostic services including CT and MRI provided at the 24-hour North Campus located on 5439 Airline Highway. This will help ensure that individuals have access to the full range of diagnostic services after hours.
OLOL is also expanding other clinic access based on its analysis of ER visit volume data from BRG. Approximately 13 percent of the visits to the BRG Mid City ER are pediatric patients. Additional pediatric coverage is planned for North Campus Urgent Care and additional evening hours and same-day appointments have been added to pediatric clinic practices at OLOL's Goodwood location near Mid City. OLOL is also examining strategies to increase its capacity to serve area seniors who may frequently utilize the BRG's Mid City ER. As expansion of LSU Health Baton Rouge's neighborhood-clinic concept continues, consideration is being given to a new clinic in the Gardere community. Both strategies are designed to reduce area ER visit volume.
Area hospitals also outlined strategies to ensure their ER capacity continues to meet the community need. Baton Rouge-area hospitals collectively handled approximately 264,013 visits in 2014 120 visits per day. According to BRG, approximately 80 percent of those visits, or 44,491 visits, could have been more efficiently handled at less-costly urgent care or primary care clinics. The remaining 11,123 emergency visits will be absorbed by Baton Rouge-area hospitals with ER access. Excluding the BRG Mid City ER, Baton Rouge-area hospitals have capacity to provide access to care for more than 278,000 visits per year. In addition to the existing capacity, Lane Regional Medical Center and Ochsner Medical Center-Baton Rouge will monitor patient utilization and consider expanding their ED capacities as needed.
Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center recently completed a series of expansions to their ER that has increased their ER bed capacity for adults from 38 to 60, including level two trauma capacity. The Lake is also in the process of adding an additional 12 beds dedicated to mental health patients that is expected to open in June.
BRG is evaluating increased access with eight to 10 ER beds at its Bluebonnet campus if necessary. Hospital leadership is also working to optimize their flow-of-care processes, including streamlining ER patient flow, and fast tracking admissions processes that allow for staff physicians and area nursing homes to directly admit their patients to BRG's hospital campuses, bypassing the emergency room when appropriate.
"I am incredibly pleased that we have been able to identify capacity at our existing hospitals and that the LSU Health urgent care clinic less than two miles away from Baton Rouge General Mid City will have expanded hours to care for more city residents without insurance," said LDH Secretary Kathy Kliebert. We will continue to meet with community leaders and stakeholders, and will aggressively begin work with the coalition to help inform the public on when, where and how to utilize health care access points in our community."
"Elimination of healthcare services anywhere in our community impacts everyone. Local hospitals are committed and working together to see that neighborhood families have access to the best care. Extraordinary community leadership is what Baton Rouge is known for across our state," said Our Lady of the Lake CEO Scott Wester.
"Baton Rouge General remains a committed and active participant in the collaborative dialogue in search of community-wide solutions," said BRG President and CEO Mark Slyter. "Sadly, we must close our door for ER services at Mid City in order to preserve the highest quality of patient care and to ensure the continued viability of our health system. Other opportunities remain open and we will be exploring those with our community partners in the months ahead."
"Ochsner Medical Center-Baton Rouge and Ochsner Medical Complex-Iberville emergency departments (ED) provide high quality care to our patients. Our goal has always been to effectively manage our own ED volume in the communities we have committed to serve," said Eric McMillen, CEO of Ochsner Medical Center-Baton Rouge.
ED Capacity in Baton Rouge Excluding BRG Mid City
- Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center
- At the Main Campus on Essen Lane, there are 86 total beds, including 60 adult beds, 20 pediatric beds, two critical care and four trauma rooms. This campus sees an average of 258 visits per day, for an average of 94,170 visits per year.
- At the Livingston campus, there are 24 beds that see approximately 85 visits per day for an average of 31,025 visits per year.
- Baton Rouge General's Bluebonnet campus has 28 beds in its ED, which see approximately 120 visits per day for an average of 43,800 per year.
- Lane Regional medical Center currently has 21 beds in its ED that see on average 96 visits per day or approximately 35,000 visits annually. Currently, the ED could handle an additional 5 to 10 percent of visits, which could accommodate up to another 3,500 visits annually.
- Ochsner Medical Center-Baton Rouge
- At its Baton Rouge campus, OMC has 24 beds that serve approximately 150 visits per day or approximately 54,750 annually.
- At its Iberville location, it has 21 beds currently serves approximately 36 visits per day or 13,140 annually.
Stakeholder and Community Meetings
The Department has scheduled meetings with critical stakeholders that will take place over the next several days and weeks, including meetings with physician leaders, transportation officials, and community and faith leaders. LDH met yesterday with emergency medical technicians on upcoming changes. BRG leaders have committed to public meetings to discuss the closure of the ER, the coalition will participate in these meetings.
Community Education and Outreach
Proper use of emergency rooms is a national issue that most states are working to address. LDH will spearhead a collaborative communications and outreach plan to address ER use, as well as provide information to the public about where, how and when care is available for individuals with or without insurance.
Existing Services in Mid City Baton Rouge
A full list of urgent care, primary care, pediatric and specialty clinics available for individuals in the Baton Rouge area without insurance is available on the LDH website here: http://dhh.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/page/2121.
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit www.dhh.louisiana.gov . For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's Twitter account and Facebook .