Health
2:55 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

DHH Steps in to Save Baton Rouge General's ER

Baton Rouge General's mid-city emergency room at night.
Baton Rouge General's mid-city emergency room at night.
Credit Sue Lincoln

The state Department of Health and Hospitals has found funds to allow Baton Rouge General Hospital to keep its emergency room open after an imminent threat of closure.

Several local media outlets reported Wednesday morning that the hospital administration had notified staff that the ER would close Nov. 1.

DHH preempted any official closure announcement with a last-minute deal, providing the hospital $18 million in state and federal money to care for the uninsured. Hospital President Mark Slyter called the deal a “hail Mary pass”.

“We were in a situation that was just clearly unsustainable with the closure of Earl K. Long and what patients were coming to us in need of services, but they had no insurance and we had no funding sources,” Slyter said at a press conference late Wednesday.   

Baton Rouge General has received an influx of uninsured patients to its mid-city ER since Earl K. Long closed in 2013 as part of the privatization of Louisiana’s charity hospital system.

DHH Chief of staff Calder Lynch says state authorities will have to continue working with local health officials to reroute patients away from emergency rooms for non-emergency care.

“We need to work together with all of our partners to make sure that we have other access points available too, including urgent care centers, primary care doctors and clinics, and specialists for all of our residents to make sure that people are accessing care in the most appropriate setting and at the best value for themselves and for taxpayers," Lynch said. 

Officials disclosed few details Wednesday on the agreement to keep Baton Rouge General’s ER open, but hospital president Mark Slyter characterized it as “sustainable”.