Earl K. Long closing sparks major concerns in community

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Amy St. Germain and many other employees at Earl K. Long Memorial Hospital are trying to deal with reality.

"A lot of employees themselves have been in shock," said St. Germain.

St. Germain has served as an emergency room nurse for more than 10 years at Earl K. Long and while she was fortunate to find another job, she fears for her coworkers that weren't so lucky and the thousands of patients affected.

"We've been hearing Earl K. Long was going to close since I started working there and we were hoping it wasn't and I just hope the patients we serve can find good quality care," added St. Germain.

Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman Denise Marcelle shares St. Germain's concerns.

"How do people get to healthcare when they need it on a regular basis?" said Marcelle.

Marcelle understands that alternative care will be available for patients at hospitals like Our Lady of the Lake and Baton Rouge General but fears there could be major snags along the way.

"I think we need the transportation people at the table. I think we need the healthcare people at the table. We need the community all those people at the table demanding that we have proper urgent care for our people of this city and this parish," said Marcelle.

Brian Marshall of the Capital Area Transit System says his office is working closely with all the hospitals involved to work out transportation details. Marshall adds his office is open to input about possible rough patches until CATS fully upgrades its routes by 2014 but insists the work is ongoing.

"We're open to those conversations but the way that we're bridging that right now is through both hospitals and we've been in conversations for at least six months with both hospitals," said Marshall.

St. Germain hopes those conversations don't leave patients and workers in need overlooked.

"It's going to be hard and put a strain on them financially and just to get them where they need to be," said St. Germain.

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