Two weeks left until Earl K. Long Hospital closure

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Two weeks. That's how much longer Earl K. Long Hospital will be open before shutting down.

Earl K. Long hospital, a North Baton Rouge landmark since the 1960s, will close its doors on April 15th. While the closure has been in the works for some years, Mike Chustz with East Baton Rouge EMS still has some concerns.

"It will take a much longer time, especially during rush hour traffic," said Chustz. "A patient being transported from North Baton Rouge to the Lake, for instance at 4 or 5 o'clock in the afternoon, that could take up to an hour...hour and a half transport."

After EKL closes, emergency patients from north Baton Rouge will have to get treatment at emergency rooms in other parts of the parish.

"We haven't seen a lot of adverse effect from it yet, but when it closes completely ...Which we're probably going to see some of that...medics having to go further than they would normally have to go. It's a concern, but hopefully we'll have it all worked out by then," said Chustz.

As a part of a public private-partnership, Our Lady of the Lake hospital will take over Earl K. Long's graduate medical education program…as well as the management of LSU's clinics around town. OLOL vice president of operations, Stephanie Manson, says those other clinics should help to keep the ERs at the city's remaining hospitals from getting swamped.

"Clinics are anything from the physicians' offices that LSU has operated for many well as brand new urgent care center in North Baton Rouge which we will operate beginning April 15," said Mason.

Mason says current EKL patients should also know some of their doctors and nurses will stay in the North Baton Rouge community and be located at those various clinics. Medical staffers who will move to the lake are now going through orientation.

"We're trying to do as much of that as we can in the next couple of weeks, so that it's a very organized and smooth week of April 15th," said Mason.

Mason says they're also hoping for a smooth transition for patients, and they've already starting relocating patients from Earl K. Long to the Lake.

We're told the state is still finalizing plans to deal with inmates who need urgent care or surgery. They used to go to EKL too. Inmate care is not a part of the agreement with Our Lady of the Lake.

Click here for more information about the Our Lady of the Lake and LSU partnership.

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