BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A surge of people is wanting the Baton Rouge General Mid-City to rethink closing its emergency room. Just a week ago, the hospital announced the stunning plan because of extreme red ink.
On the Capital steps Wednesday morning, a group of lawmakers and residents concerned about the closing will hold a meeting, hoping to come up with an alternative plan.
"The closure of this ER will have an impact on the entire region, not just the city," says District 29 State Representative Regina Barrow (D).
Since the announcement that Baton Rouge General Hospital will close its Mid-City Emergency Room, State Rep. Barrow has been on the phone with other lawmakers daily, hoping to find a way to keep the doors open.
"At this point we're going to be asking the Governor's office and the administration to look at ways to help us keep it open until we can find a solution, and again, closing the hospital is not an option," she said.
While Barrow admits that getting financial help from the state might be difficult, considering current budget woes, she says that a lack of medical access could cost taxpayers more in the long run.
Barrow isn't the only busy one, the Department of Health and Hospitals has been working with BRG and Our Lady of the Lake to prepare for the day when the ER will close. Those plans include a temporary urgent care center near the current ER location, with the possibility of an additional permanent location later. There is currently a Mid-City Urgent Care Center run by OLOL located on Foster Drive.
"What we're trying to do right now is determine what we can do to establish some additional care options for residents in Mid-City Baton Rouge," said Olivia Watkins with the Department of Health and Hospitals.
The state is spending $500,000 on a study to look at how and where to best open another urgent care center in Mid-City. While some people worry about the lack of emergency care in general, DHH officials point out that the urgent care model has been successful. For example, after Earl K. Long hospital closed the LSU Health Services opened an Urgent Care Center a few blocks away on Airline Highway. That Urgent Care Center is also run by OLOL.
"We'd certainly like to have as many emergency rooms as we possibly could in the area, but we do understand that emergency rooms and hospitals have to be sustainable," said Watkins.
Baton Rouge General said they are focusing on patients and staff right now and did not provide a comment, however a public letter sent out earlier in the week indicated that the decision to close the Mid-City E.R. was notERe lightly.
DHH is looking forward to hearing any suggestions that may come out of Wednesday's news conference.
The news conference starts at 10 a.m. on the steps of the State Capital.