8 Month Old Baby Died While Plan for ER in North Baton Rouge on Gov. Edwards Desk

An 8 month old, Raylee Mercer was found unresponsive in her father’s car this afternoon in north Baton Rouge. Her father a baseball coach at Madison Prep High School in Baton Rouge, forgot his daughter in his vehicle today. After two hours he found young Raylee Mercer unresponsive in the vehicle. The father drove to Baton Rouge General Mid-City to seek treatment for his daughter. She died.

Baton Rouge General Mid-City closed its emergency room last year. Since then mid-city Baton Rouge and north Baton Rouge have gone without emergency room access. Scott Wester CEO of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, Baton Rouge’s safety net hospital said in April in The Advocate, “It is a myth that north Baton Rouge needs an emergency room.” Now Our Lady of the Lake has presented a plan to Gov. John Bel Edwards to open what they are calling an “Advanced Care Center” at their Airline Hwy urgent care clinic. This is an attempt by Our Lady of the Lake to keep Gov. John Bel Edwards from appropriating funds to the Champion Medical Center Emergency Room project.

Gov. Edwards said at the Louisiana Health Summit that he is committed to opening an emergency room in north Baton Rouge. Yet, when a plan was presented by the #NBRNow Blue Ribbon Commission, Gov. Edwards allowed state funds to go to Our Lady of the Lake for yet another urgent care clinic on Florida Blvd.

North Baton Rouge law makers have expressed frustration with Gov. Edwards not moving forward with the Champion Medical Center ER Project. State Sen. Regina Barrow said in a press release, “I am disappointed that we are ending this regular session without being able to address the critical health care needs of the citizens of North Baton Rouge. However, I am resolved to continue to work on this issue with all of the parties involved, including Champion Medical Center which has really stepped up to the plate to try to help the community.”

State Rep. Edmond Jordan in the same press release stated, “OLOL CEO Scott Wester said that it was a “myth” that North Baton Rouge needs an emergency room. Which begs the question, if its CEO is saying and its data is showing that an emergency room is not needed in North Baton Rouge, why is OLOL suddenly interested in providing emergency room services in North Baton Rouge?”

Even State Rep. Ted James commented, “Champion Medical Center brought this issue to the forefront.” Which he applauded them for.

Yet Gov. Edwards isn’t prioritizing the healthcare of the residents of north Baton Rouge. It is shameful that a father in a desperate situation to save the life of his 8 month old daughter had no options within driving distance to save his daughters life.

The Champion Medical Center facility is only 5 miles away, which is about 9 minutes from the location Raylee Mercer was located. While Our Lady of the Lake and Baton Rouge General are both 9 miles away. A 20 minute or more drive, depending on Baton Rouge traffic. Gov. Edwards is entertaining distractions when a willing party has stepped to the table with a plan to open an emergency room by January of 2017.

These are the type of actions I would expect from a republican like Bobby Jindal, but 98% of north Baton Rouge voted for John Bel Edwards and they are seemingly not a priority. The greater question is, how many situations like Raylee Mercer are happening in north Baton Rouge daily, that don’t make the evening news? How many people are dying due to a lack of access to healthcare?

Gov. Edwards made a promise to north Baton Rouge, and he is choosing to delay fulfilling that promise. Much like he has delayed other campaign promises. As someone who voted for Gov. Edwards I am quickly losing confidence in him – because the healthcare of the citizens of this state should never be a game of politics. Gov. Edwards didn’t need anyone else to make this project happen. It has the support of both Republicans and Democrats in both houses of the Louisiana Legislature.

Our Lady of the Lake is stalling progress by pitching a half baked healthcare solution for north Baton Rouge and it’s disgraceful. How many people have to die while we debate which plan, when months ago OLOL and every other hospital in Baton Rouge said no, they would not open an ER in north Baton Rouge. Even the plan Our Lady of the Lake submitted is not an ER. It is a glorified urgent care clinic and they should be ashamed of stalling progress in the name of greed.

Gov. Edwards needs to answer how many black people in north Baton Rouge will die under his watch because there is no access to healthcare. The state may be in a financial crisis, but he is still cutting checks to Our Lady of the Lake for projects that don’t address the critical need of access to emergency care in north Baton Rouge.

Call the office of the governor and leave a message that you would like to see him fund the Champion Emergency Room Project in this special session (225)342-7015 or email by clicking HERE.

We can’t allow Gov. Edwards to ignore the critical need of north Baton Rouge.

Let us all keep the Mercer family in our thoughts and prayers. Some will think the time to write this story is too soon, but how long should we wait to hold our elected officials accountable. The sooner we solve the access to healthcare problem, the sooner we are able to prevent this from happening to another young child. Her father clearly tried to save her life by taking her to Baton Rouge General Mid-City, it is unfortunate that we as a community haven’t done more to make sure that people who live, work, and play in north Baton Rouge have access to emergency care. How long should we wait? Some will say I’m not a healthcare expert, which is true. I am a father of a little girl who wants her to have access to emergency care in the event of an emergency in her community.