The Advocate Calls North Baton Rouge Black Residents Beggars

I have consistently talked about the bias and disrespect of mainstream media in Baton Rouge. Some believe it is “race baiting” to discuss issues of racism. The truth is, there is subtle racism witnessed every single day in Baton Rouge. That’s why it was no surprise to me to read that Andrea Gallo of The Advocate wrote in her latest article, “Healthcare leaders have emphasized the difference between emergency rooms and trauma centers and repeatedly cited emergency room overuse as politicians and vocal north Baton Rouge residents have begged for an emergency room there.”

The question I have for The Advocate is, what makes residents of north Baton Rouge beggars? To say that someone has begged is to classify them as a beggar. You see, this is the problem with the entire process of reporting and governing in Baton Rouge and why we are truly a divided city. One side of Baton Rouge is seen as creating opportunities when they ask for tax funds for a project but the “blacker” more “urban” community is seen as BEGGARS? How insulting.

The major issue with this is, the #NBRNow Blue Ribbon Commission came up with a proposal to help solve a healthcare crisis that Gov. John Bel Edwards said he wanted to fix. The commission has 9 members, 6 hold PHD’s or the equivalent, yet Gallo of The Advocate has referred to them as a citizen lead group. A group no different than the Baton Rouge Area Chamber – an organization that has received over $1 million in tax payer dollars to increase economic development around the parish, yet north Baton Rouge always seems to come up short in their plans.

Gallo has done exactly what I’ve written her editors about before, shown her bias. Consistently, she and the editors of her paper who allow her to print these slanted stories, disrespect the tax paying citizens of north Baton Rouge.

The disheartening part about the story is, yet again Our Lady of the Lake gets an opportunity to decide what all of Baton Rouge needs as it relates to healthcare? I for one can’t understand why Gov. Edwards is entertaining Our Lady of the Lake to expand healthcare in north Baton Rouge when they consistently express their disinterest in meeting the need. Their CEO Scott Wester said a few months ago, “It is a myth that north Baton Rouge needs an emergency room.” Now their Vice President of Missions Colletta Baretta has come out speaking against providing north Baton Rouge with an ER.

The issue with this and every story they write on the issue is, no one admits that most visits to the ER don’t come via ambulance. So when Barretta says that if you have a trauma that you will be transported to Our Lady of the Lake, she fails to admit that most people who come to their facility and most ER’s walk in the door. They also fail to mention that opening another ER in north Baton Rouge will help relieve the congestion that exists in their ER on a daily basis. Leaders at Our Lady of the Lake are quoted saying their doctors are “fatigued” due to the patient load they are currently seeing.

North Baton Rouge deserves healthcare equity. Receiving that means having access to all the same benefits that south Baton Rouge has. Our tax dollars are funding projects all over this parish, yet we are “begging” if we demand that some of our dollars be spent in our community? We are wrong to have a voice on who provides the services to our community? I say no. We are not begging. We are demanding equity. We are demanding a seat at the decision making table, because our vote and our dollars count too.

It is disgraceful that The Advocate, Louisiana’s largest print media platform, would allow one of its writers to describe elected officials and advocates from the black community, business owners, and tax payers of north Baton Rouge as beggars. It is subtle racism. How? They haven’t called the Tram project the metro council approved $10 million dollars for “begging.” They haven’t called Exxon asking for a $2.15 million dollar tax rebate “begging”. A tax rebate that will only create 14 jobs, while funding the Champion ER Project in north Baton Rouge will create over 4o new jobs at a cost of $3.8 million annually for 5 years, and has the potential to increase economic development in an area of Baton Rouge that has lost more assets than it has gained in the past decade.

I won’t apologize or back down from demanding that the resources we pay into come back to our community. It’s called the law of reciprocity, what a man sows that shall he also reap. The real begging takes place in big corporate offices when they are already receiving more than their share of the pie. For all the people who think that we in north Baton Rouge don’t deserve healthcare equity, I challenge you to let your elderly mother or grandmother live in a community where they continue to strip them of healthcare resources and offer crumbs as the solution. An ER in north Baton Rouge isn’t the total solution, it is simply a start.

Bold racism is when you stand in my face and call me a nigger. Most people are too cowardly to do that. As a result they opt for subtle racism, which is when you imply for one reason or another that I am less than you are. One of the definitions of beggar is, “a wretched fellow; rogue.” The fact is, when you reference elected officials and vocal residents in north Baton Rouge that have addressed this issue, all of which have been black – to refer to us as beggars is racist. I’ve never heard them refer to the folks who wanted to break away and create a new city as beggars. They were passionate tax payers. Next time Gallo and The Advocate, just call us niggers, at least then your racism will be crystal clear for everyone to see.

Oh and one last thing… There is data to prove that closing emergency rooms increases the death rate in the areas closest to the closed ER. So while local healthcare leaders are painting a picture that all is well in Baton Rouge, no actual data has been tracked to support that. The CNN report went on to say, “The researchers used data from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development as well as other sources to identify 48 hospitals that closed their emergency departments in that state between 1999 and 2010. They then analyzed inpatient deaths among 16 million adult inpatients admitted through emergency departments during the same period.

They found that 4 million of those admissions were to hospitals located near another emergency department that had closed. Patients at the affected hospitals were more likely than patients at unaffected hospitals to be black, Hispanic, female and under the age of 65; they were also more likely to be uninsured or on Medicaid, and to be sicker overall.

Even after adjusting for the different patient and hospital characteristics, however, the researchers found that among inpatients at hospitals affected by an emergency room closure, 5% were more likely to die than patients at other hospitals. The increase in the risk of death for affected adults under 65 was even greater: their risk of dying in the hospital increased by 10% compared with similar patients who were not affected by a closure.

And heart attack, stroke and sepsis patients faced a 15% greater risk of dying in the hospital if there had been a closure nearby, when compared with similar patients at unaffected hospitals.

The researchers said emergency room closures at nearby facilities may contribute to mortality at other hospitals because they increase the distance and travel time to an emergency room, while exacerbating crowding and prolonging waiting times for care. Closures may also cause some patients to postpone seeking care, so that they are in worse shape by the time they arrive at a hospital, Hsia said.”