Trend of free-standing ER's hitting Baton Rouge region
BATON ROUGE - There's a new trend nationwide of emergency rooms which aren't connected to larger hospitals, and the only two in Louisiana are both in the Baton Rouge region.
The free-standing emergency rooms are open around the clock and have emergency physicians on-site at all times. The first in the state was built in Walker in Livingston Parish and run by Our Lady of the Lake, which now treats around 100 patients a day according to Vice President of Operations Dean Williams.
"We looked at the area, determined that this area was growing fast and did not have an emergency room in Livingston Parish," he said. "We looked at the research and decided this is where the service needs to be provided."
The only other free-standing emergency room in the state is operated by Ochsner in Iberville Parish. That emergency room in Plaquemine serves 30 to 50 patients each day. Eric McMillen, CEO of Ochsner's Baton Rouge region, says the ER opened toward the end of last year after a lot of research.
"Obviously they had a hospital that was up and running before, so we got some information from their previous experience and we were able to justify doing a free-standing ER in that area," said McMillen.
With the closure of the Baton Rouge General emergency room in Mid City earlier this year some feel there is a need for more critical care in the area. Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle believes a free-standing emergency room could save lives in Mid City.
"If they use the model where they do accept Medicaid and Medicare then I would certainly welcome them to this community, because there's nothing here to assist the people who are in that type of situation," she said.
The Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert says expanded hours of urgent care centers in Mid City are helping. She says data shows no need for additional health care in Mid City.
"We met with all of the hospital CO's a couple of weeks after the closure, and they aren't seeing anything that they haven't been able to handle," said Kliebert.
However, some Baton Rouge leaders like Marcelle disagree with DHH.
"I'm sure they would say that. They're the ones who allowed the hospital to close down, but I don't agree with them. I believe that an emergency room is needed in this particular area," said Marcelle. "As I've said before, if one person dies that's one too many."
According to DHH, it would be up to a health system to determine whether to build a free-standing emergency room in Mid City, but as of right now both Ochsner and Our Lady of the Lake have no plans to add another ER.
"The urgent care model there is working from what I understand, so we would not have a need at this point to do that," said McMillen.
DHH plans to meet with hospitals and emergency responders later this week to re-evaluate the situation.