Below is the full press release from Senator Regina Barrow and Rep. Edmond Jordan. The Rouge Collection is releasing the full statement so that the public can fully know how our legislators feel. Mainstream media gives bits and pieces, we believe the full story will allow the community to have a greater understanding of the issue.
Today several legislators met with Governor John Bel Edwards to discuss plans to open an emergency department at Champion Medical Center (“Champion”) in North Baton Rouge. We were hopeful that Governor Edwards was committed to assisting with the funding for an emergency room to North Baton Rouge prior to the close of this legislative session; as the Governor’s administration was presented with an affordable plan to open an emergency room at Champion by January of 2017.
Despite our optimism, Governor Edwards has not funded this project during this session. While we certainly understand that the state is in a critical budget situation; for the residents of North Baton Rouge, providing an emergency room is a priority. Our Lady of the Lake’s (“OLOL”) current business model has been to provide urgent care clinics, like the one budgeted on Florida Boulevard. However, to our surprise, OLOL is contemplating deviating from that model and has expressed interest in expanding its urgent care facility in North Baton Rouge to include emergency room services. While our ultimate short term goal is to provide emergency room services in North Baton Rouge and not favor one provider over another, we are skeptical of OLOL’s recent interest in this project. “In an April 3, 2016 article in The Advocate; 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?” – Rep. Edmond Jordan
Residents of North Baton Rouge are hard-working tax-paying citizens and deserve to see their tax dollars come into projects in their communities. North Baton Rouge has been on the short end of the stick repeatedly and it is unfortunate that the Governor’s office has been unable to help us get this done during this session. This project gives us a great opportunity to expand healthcare services at an affordable cost. There has been nearly $40 million dollars invested into the facility at Champion Medical Center without any tax payer support. Champion has been committed to North Baton Rouge when other healthcare providers refused to address our needs. This is an opportunity to create new jobs and expand economic development in the North Baton Rouge area.
While the Governor has demonstrated that he is a good leader, we believe that it is only right for us to speak up and say that we urge the Governor’s office to find a way at this late hour to fund this project. This is a matter of life and death. Opening an emergency room by January 2017 is good for all of Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas. It allows thousands of people greater access to care. North Baton Rouge has waited long enough and we must do something to change the condition of this community now. We are currently giving Our Lady of the Lake millions of dollars and this is a small request compared to what we are currently paying in other areas. We will continue to fight for North Baton Rouge.
“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. There are still viable solutions on the table that we will continue to explore. It is not about what we may want, what we may consider the optimum solution, but what we need and what the hard-working citizens of North Baton Rouge deserve. They deserve access to quality health care services and emergency care as needed and I am committed to making that happen.” – Sen. Regina Barrow