BR General CEO defends ER closing
BATON ROUGE- As the CEO for the Baton Rouge General prepares his staff for the impending closure of the hospital's emergency room, he's answering some questions about how the hospital got into the situation.
Last year the state stepped in with millions of dollars to cover a gap created by uninsured patients, but CEO Mark Slyter said that money wasn't enough to keep the ER open.
"Many patients that are coming into our doors, less and less of them have the means to pay and because of that, it's very difficult to sustain that going forward," said Slyter.
Baton Rouge Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle thinks the problem started when Governor Bobby Jindal refused funding that would have expanded Medicaid in the state, insuring some of Louisiana's poorest.
"I honestly believe it's because of the way Jindal has responded to health care in Louisiana, how he's put it on the back burner, in my opinion and certainly, when they closed Earl K Long, I knew that was going to have a domino effect, I said it then and it's evident now," said Marcelle.
Slyter reassures his system is working with other local ER departments to ease the transition and thinks people in the area will have plenty of options if they're in need of help.
"There are emergency services that are close by, Our Lady of the Lake has emergency services, Bluebonnet, Lane all will continue to have emergency services, in addition, many things could be seen in a different setting, urgent care, and in a clinic type of setting, and those will be expanding and we'll be looking to working with those community partners to help educate folks on where to go and when to go," said Slyter.
But even some of the city's paramedics think the closure of the hospital will increase the time it takes to get to life saving services, even with emergency lights flashing, especially in traffic.
"Even if you have your lights and sirens on, there's no place for traffic to move out your way. So, basically your lights and sirens would be useless," said Jeremy Landry, who works with Baton Rouge EMS.
The hospital is expected to shut it's emergency room doors within the next 60 days. There's no word on how many jobs could be affected.