BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The effort to keep an emergency room open in Baton Rouge is growing.
Lawmakers and concerned citizens gathered on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol on Wednesday for a large rally in which they called on Gov. Bobby Jindal to help save Baton Rouge General Mid-City emergency room.
One legislator said "people are going to die" if the emergency room closes in the next 60 days.
Legislators, city leaders and members of the faith community spoke out about what closing the emergency facility will mean.
Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, said people who live in Mid-City and other areas of the city are now basically in a death zone, with no access to treatment if they have a medical emergency. She pointed out the governor's mansion also is in the death zone, but she added he has a helicopter that can have him at any hospital he chooses.
One solution mentioned over and over is for Jindal to accept the Medicare expansion. Those attending the rally said closing the ER with no viable healthcare plan is unjust and risky.
"Today, I'm declaring a state of emergency; I am declaring a state of emergency," said Father Richard Andrus of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church. "If this hospital closes, we are in trouble. Governor, it is immoral and unjust to all the residents of Mid-City, north and south city and downtown who will have no emergency medical facilities."
Andrus added for victims of shootings, car accidents or heart attack on this side of the city, time is working against them and rolling to Essen or Bluebonnet for treatment could mean life or death.
Legislators said they are also calling for a plan to make urgent care clinics open for 24 hours, regardless of what happens, so people with minor ailments are not tying up ER facilities.