BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - When the state charity hospital Earl K. Long closed in April 2013, many residents without insurance or those who are underinsured were left with one less access point for care.
Roberts explains that many patients who depended on Earl K. Long have now turned to other local emergency rooms for primary care which is part of a growing problem of inappropriate E.R. use. For example, Baton Rouge General's Midcity E.R. has seen an addition of several hundred uninsured or underinsured patients a month since 2013.
Federal data indicates that from 2008 to 2012, there was a seven percent increase in ER visits nationwide. In Louisiana, there was a 22% increase with a 17% increase in Baton Rouge alone.
Urgent care clinics can handle most non-emergency health needs including colds and even broken bones. Urgent care is also cheaper, helping keep overall health care costs down, something Roberts say is important.
"The physicians and hospitals in Baton Rouge are all struggling to meet the economic challenges of the Affordable Care Act, closure of charity hospital and kind of the redesign of care. All of us realize that we're going to stand by and take care of patients without any more resources," said Roberts.