Yesterday, The Advocate published a story entitled "Baton Rouge General to close its Mid-City emergency room" by Marsha Shuler. The story contained several factual inaccuracies and excluded important information.
CLAIM: The story claims that the emergency room is the "victim of continuing red ink and the Jindal administration withdrawing the financial support that kept it open."
FACT: State support for the Baton Rouge General has never been retracted and has only increased in recent years. After an earlier commitment of $5 million in additional reimbursement, the Department of Health (DHH) committed another $18 million last summer to help cover uncompensated care costs while continuing to work with the hospital to ensure the sustainability of services in that community. These commitments were honored and paid in full. Further, total state reimbursement to the hospital increased from $31 million to $55 million from fiscal years 2012 to 2015. The state has already paid the hospital nearly $36 million this fiscal year so far.
CLAIM: The story claims that the "closest emergency rooms from Baton Rouge General's Mid City campus is Lane Regional Medical Center, 30 minutes to the north in Zachary, and Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, 30 minutes to the south on Essen Lane. Mid-City's ER recorded 45,000 patient visits last year."
FACT: The six-mile trip takes an estimated 10 minutes without traffic. It would only take up to 30 minutes during peak traffic times. While the ER does treat approximately 45,000 visits per year, the majority of these visits are non-emergent and can be more appropriately treated at closer urgent care facilities.
OTHER IMPORTANT FACTS OMMITTED BY THE STORY:
- In December, Our Lady of the Lake (OLOL) opened a new urgent care clinic in Mid-City on N. Foster Drive, supplementing the 24-hour facility on Airline Highway that opened following closure of Earl K. Long. The Airline Drive facility saw more patients in its first year of operation than the Earl K. Long emergency room provided in the preceding year.
- As part of this transition, OLOL will be working to expand capacity at the N. Foster Drive Clinic and plans to open a third urgent care clinic at a temporary location near the Mid-City campus following closure of the BRG ER. The State has committed to supporting the development of the needed clinic capacity in the area, starting with a study of the available facilities near the Mid-City campus that would be available for conversion to a permanent clinic site.
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 DHH's Twitter account and Facebook.