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With No Mid-City ER, Ambulances to Hurry Farther

East Baton Rouge Parish EMS

Lane Regional Medical Center in Zachary sits on the northern edge of East Baton Rouge Parish. Ochsner on O’Neal Lane and Our Lady of the Lake on Essen are both about 20 miles to the south.  

There will be no emergency room in between once Baton Rouge General at Mid City closes their ER sometime between April and May.  That means ambulances will have farther to travel. 

"If we’re going further away, we’re going to have a longer transport time," said Mike Chustz, Public Information Officer with East Baton Rouge Parish EMS.

He says it currently takes an EMS ambulance anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes to get a patient to Baton Rouge General at Mid City. Once it closes, transport could take 7 to 10 minutes longer. 

It’s best practice to be able to transport a trauma patient in 20 minutes or less. The shorter the transport time, the better the chance of survival. Trying to get a patient from North Baton Rouge to Our Lady of the Lake in that amount of time at 5-o-clock in the afternoon could be a tall order.

"The interstates are jammed and surface streets are busy. So that particular call could take 20 to 30 minutes longer," Chustz said.

In 2014, East Baton Rouge Parish EMS transported a total of 33,705 patients to parish hospitals. Of that number, 9,628 went to Baton Rouge General Mid City, which is approximately 30 percent of the transport load -- 30 percent that will soon have to go somewhere else.

"All those patients are still going to be using 911 and using EMS, and they’re gonna end up somewhere other than that facility," Chustz said.

Chustz knows in order to deal with that, adjustments are going to have to be made, like putting more paramedics and ambulances on the street to relieve those stuck in traffic, or looking at alternate routes to get to the other hospitals.

Even making sure patients know when to use an emergency room and when not to.