BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - With the Earl K. Long hospital deserted, Our Lady of the Lake Hospital is now in charge of the health of patients and the education of future doctors, something that was a proud legacy of the Earl.
"We've had a long history of training residents. A lot of doctors that people see in this community are EKL trained doctors. I think that will continue," said Dr. Kevin Reed who was the medical director at Earl K. Long and also serves as the Associate Dean of Medical Education for LSU.
Across town on the Lake campus, medical residents began the week with their daily morning report where they review patients and cases. These morning reports will now be a little more crowded as the number of residents on campus grows from 70 to 136 with the addition of Earl K. Long residents. By July, there will 160 medical residents across four programs that include internal medicine, emergency medicine, OB-GYN and psychiatric medicine.
"Many years of planning and months of fine tuning the details of the transition and this morning marks our new beginning as partners," said OLOL Chief Academic Officer Laurinda Calongne.
This new chapter at the Lake is bittersweet for many of the Earl's former residents like Dr. Ann Long who started her residency in Baton Rouge after Hurricane Katrina. Long is currently a fellow in Seattle and returned to witness the close of the hospital she loved.
"It's a sad day for a lot of us because many of us chose to stay here for our residencies and spend time here because the patient population was so special to us. We believed it was important to provide care to people that are under served or disenfranchised and that meant a lot to us," said Long.
However, they also believe that spirit wasn't in the physical building of the Earl, but with the teachers who will be joining the team at the Lake.
"I know there's always angst and worrying about transitioning, but what made this place so special isn't necessarily the building, although the building certainly played an integral role, but really it's the people," said Dr. Matthew Foy who is with the internal medicine residency program.
There is also excitement about how this partnership can help LSU's medical program grow.
"We're building our brand new graduate education building for LSU," said Calongne. "We're going to have 10,000 square foot simulation lab; lots of innovation around teaching and learning on our campus."
"I think one of the limitations of training at Earl K Long has been limited resources," explained Foy. "Now that we're moving facilities that have a broader scope of what we can give to our patients and education we can provide to our residents and students, I think it only helps to enhance that learning."