June 15, 2016
A Letter to the Community:
I am disappointed that Gov. Edwards was unwilling to execute on his commitment to north Baton Rouge to open an emergency room during the regular session. Less than three months ago, Gov. John Bel Edwards asked Baton Rouge General Health System’s administrators to consider re-opening their Mid-City campus’ emergency room. Hospital officials announced the closure in early February, explaining the institution was losing upwards of $2 million a month treating thousands of uninsured patients in its ER. The announcement came only six months after the state had given the hospital $18 million to keep the ER open.
Emergency medicine encompasses the care of patients with traumatic injuries or serious signs and symptoms of disease. Quick evaluation and rapid treatment of these patients obviously cannot be done on an “elective” basis. A solution to the lack of emergency medical care is six months away with Champion Medical Center and Governor Edwards is “not ready to commit.”
Some will say, the state is in a budget crisis, which is true. However, Our Lady of the Lake was allocated in this regular session, $7 million to open another urgent care clinic, on Florida Blvd. in Mid-City. In the regular session the legislature allocated funds to build this urgent care clinic and it will not be completed for several years.
These funds were allocated on the heels of the recent opening of Patient Plus Care Urgent Care Center, located in Mid City. The clinicis already operating on Florida Blvd., filling the void that was left in the community by EK Long Charity Hospital and Baton Rouge General Mid-City ER closures. Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb, who was among lawmakers that warned of grave consequences due to the Mid-City ER closure, said in a statement last year that Patient Plus Urgent Care “will significantly restore our community’s urgent care capacity and that makes a huge difference.” Soon therewill be two urgent care facilities blocks away from each other, but no emergency department in the most isolated part of north Baton Rouge.
The governor said he was working to get an emergency room in north Baton Rouge. If General Health System is unable to reopen the Mid-City emergency room, Edwards said, “We’re going to find some other way.” I have not heard over the last three months since the governor made that statement, steps he has taken to bring an emergency room to north Baton Rouge.
However, I can attest to the fact that myself and the #NBRNow Blue Ribbon Commission has presented a strong, financially sound, and sensible plan to bring emergency care to the northern part of the City of Baton Rouge.
Within five miles of the proposed Champion Medical Center Emergency Department in Howell Place is a chemical plant corridor, a parish prison, a regional airport, the parish EMS headquarters, and the parish homeland security compound. This location has a major advantage for an emergency medical system capable of absorbing the massive surge in demand for emergency medical assistance that would follow a natural disaster, chemical explosion, or terrorist attack.
An emergency department will provide jobs, and the economic activity represented by each of those jobs creates another job in our community. Jobs directly and indirectly attribute to goods and services — from medical supplies to food and energy. Champion Medical Center presents an opportunity to create jobs in north Baton Rouge. Its location will spur economic development in an area where there is a great need and has long been neglected.
The #NBRNow Blue Ribbon Commission has had several meetings with Gov. Edwards’ staff and we have been assured over and over again of his commitment to support emergency services in north Baton Rouge. Now, he is backing away from the only plan that assures a January 2017 opening.
As a registered Democrat, I expect this type of response from a succeeding Republican Governor, but not from a Democratic successor who ran on the tenant of righting the wrongs of the past eight years.
Residents in north Baton Rouge have been told “No”, by its mayor, now they face in some cases literally a fatal “No” from its governor. It is imperative that the governor makes it a priority to fund Champion Medical Center a total of $7 million for the construction and operation of a full service emergency department in this special session. Those funds will carry this project through the end of 2017, with no additional tax burden. I am sure Champion will stick around for longer than six months!
Contact the following state legislatures that represent the area along Howell Place to vigorously support state funding for emergency services at the Offices at Champion Medical Center:
Senator Regina Barrow
4811 Harding Blvd
Baton Rouge, LA 70811
Representative Edmond Jordan
E-mail Address: email@example.com
Representative Barbara Carpenter-
1975 Harding Blvd.
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Councilwoman Chauna Banks
East Baton Rouge Metro District 2