Today, the Louisiana Department of Health (DHH), along with leaders from Baton Rouge General Medical Center (BRG), the Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF) and Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center (OLOL), announced plans to collaborate on a new model of health care for Mid City Baton Rouge. The plans will include the expansion of the LSU Health Baton Rouge urgent care clinic on N. Foster Drive and the creation of a temporary clinic location to support the needs of the community at some point following the closure of BRG's Mid City emergency room (ER) and clinical redesign of services. Collaborators agreed to conduct a study of the long-term potential for the campus as a viable healthcare asset in the Mid City Baton Rouge community.
Over the next several months, the BRG and BRAF will collaborate on a study of the long-term sustainability of the campus. At the same time, the State and OLOL will evaluate the need and scope of a permanent new urgent care facility near the BRG Mid City campus. The State has committed to supporting the construction with Capital Outlay funds, starting with a study of the available facilities near the Mid City campus that would be available for conversion to a permanent site.
LDH will also work closely with the BRG, BRAF, OLOL and community partners to conduct the necessary community education and outreach surrounding the transition.
"We are pleased to be part of this collaborative effort between the Baton Rouge General, Baton Rouge Area Foundation and other community partners to maintain services in the Mid City area while planning for the long-term sustainability of this health care facility," said LDH Secretary Kathy H. Kliebert. "Health care options must evolve to match the needs of the community and we believe that the changes announced today are part of that evolution."
"We've left no stone unturned as we've sought solutions that would allow us to keep the Mid City ER open," said Baton Rouge General President and CEO Mark Slyter. "Though closing Mid City ER doors, the care and commitment to our Mid City community remains strong. We look forward to continuing to work with the State as well as community providers to utilize our Mid City campus in a manner that preserves our vital community asset."
"We are currently working with the Baton Rouge General and Our Lady of the Lake on the Baton Rouge Health District project," said John Spain, executive vice president of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. "We will continue to work with these partners and other community stakeholders to resolve the challenges of providing health care services to the Mid City community."
As part of the transition plans, Baton Rouge General expressed support for the collaborative plans late yesterday, following their Board's decision to close emergency room operations in Mid City in the next 60 days. The State provided additional funding to BRG as reimbursement for the care provided to the uninsured in the summer of 2014, which allowed additional time for the BRG and community members to ability to craft this long-term plan. In that time, the Mid City ER continued to experience high volumes of uninsured patients and unsustainable levels of financial losses.
Thoughtful internal planning and community meetings regarding the realignment of services at the hospital-and its impact on staff-will take place throughout the coming months. BRG will also focus its efforts on communications with patients and their families, staff, physicians, volunteers, neighbors and friends of the hospital about transition plans, including education about appropriate utilization of and access to care.
BRG has committed to work with BRAF and other partners to identify an industry consultant to study the long-term potential of the campus for preserving this vital community asset.
The LSU public-private partnerships serve as the primary access point for care for uninsured residents in Louisiana. The new model of care is comprised of the full complement of healthcare services including primary, specialty and surgery services.
In April 2013, the initial LSU Health Baton Rouge Urgent Care Center opened at the North Baton Rouge facility on Airline Highway. Today, that facility sees an average of 120 patients per day. In December 2014, an additional Urgent Care Center was opened in Mid City on North Foster Drive, roughly 1.5 miles from the Baton Rouge General Mid City campus, adding capacity for walk-in patient care.
"Alternatives to the ER for non-emergent healthcare are the right solutions to help address this challenge in communities everywhere. Since opening more than two years ago, the LSU Health Baton Rouge Urgent Care Center has cared for thousands of Baton Rouge residents with and without insurance, and our recent expansion on Foster Drive is gaining patients as well," said Our Lady of the Lake CEO Scott Wester. "These clinics allow us to see patients quickly as well as link individuals to primary care if they do not have those established relationships. We will do everything we can to ensure people have access to the best health care."
The LSU Health Baton Rouge clinics operated by Our Lady of Lake have resulted in shorter wait times and more services available for uninsured residents.
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 http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH's Twitter account and Facebook.