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Investors meet to discuss emergency room in North Baton Rouge

7 months 6 days 20 hours ago April 28, 2016 Apr 28, 2016 Thursday, April 28 2016 April 28, 2016 10:09 PM in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Kristen Althouse, Brittany Weiss

BATON ROUGE - Investors met with the #NBRNOW Blue Ribbon Commission Thursday to discuss building an emergency room in North Baton Rouge.

Leaders of the healthcare company Next Health said if the money is there, they will waste no time building the new emergency room, and it could be open within the next year. Next Health operates Champion Medical Center, a specialized surgical hospital located in Howell Place and says the bones are there to build and receive patients.

"Because we have the infrastructure and the exterior already built, in a matter of months we could be up and open and seeing patients in a very, very, very quick manner," said Josh Ihde, the chief operating officer of Next Health.

To add an emergency room, it would take $6.5 million, and another three to $3.5 million dollars in operating costs annually.

Metro-Council member, Chauna Banks created the Blue Ribbon Commission, to advocate for the North Baton Rouge community. It has lost two emergency rooms in three years. Earl K. Long closed in 2013, and Baton Rouge General closed it's doors on their emergency room in 2015. In the little over a year since the last closure, the average response time to an emergency, has increased by a minute and 30 seconds.

If an emergency room was set up at Champion Medical Center, it would serve emergency patients, but would not be set up to handle long-term care situations.

"We'll have relationships with other facilities and hopefully partnerships with other hospitals in the city to transfer those patients for long-term care," said Ihde.

The emergency room expansion would add more beds to the center, with the possibility to take the eleven existing beds, and grow that number to 25.

Ihde said an emergency room at Champion Medical Center would except Medicaid, the state's healthcare coverage for the poor, and Medicare, a federal insurance program for the elderly.

Champion Medical Center has been open for ten years at its current location. WBRZ News 2 also learned a new charter school is in the works for the development at Howell Place.

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