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Emergency Care Returning to North Baton Rouge

Wallis Watkins

It’s been a year and a half since North Baton Rouge had an emergency room. On Wednesday, Governor John Bel Edwards announced plans that will change that. 

“Our partner for healthcare delivery in Baton Rouge is Our Lady of the Lake.  It just so happened that we were in the process of negotiating with all of our partners revisions to those agreements so that we could save money, better serve the people,"said Governor Edwards, "and it made sense to incorporate into those negotiations a new emergency room in Baton Rouge.”

LSU Health’s Urgent Care Clinic, just blocks from the former Earl K. Long Charity Hospital, will house the new ER.

“As we pulled in that driveway out there, the bottom of that sign says ‘no emergency room.’ That’s not going to be up there much longer,” said the Governor to applause.

After Earl K. Long Charity Hospital was shut down in 2013, uninsured patients were encouraged to go to Our Lady of the Lake, ten miles away. Instead, many went to the closer ER at Baton Rouge General Mid-City. Unable to afford to offer care to those patients, the Mid-City ER closed in March 2015.

Dr. Jim Rhorer, Medical Director of Emergency Services for Our Lady of the Lake, says the new facility will have a full emergency department team.

“We’re going to start with eight beds that can flex up to eleven beds,” he added.

Our Lady of the Lake CEO Scott Wester said the "goal is to be operational twelve months or less from today’s date.”

The Governor says Medicaid expansion is now covering 306,000 Louisianians, "and but for the savings that we generated from the expansion of Medicaid - $184 million in savings in this year alone - none of these advancements would have been possible.”