After Baton Rouge General Hospital announced that it would be closing its emergency room in February 2015, health officials and residents throughout the area were understandably alarmed. To ensure that the city would be able to access needed medical care in the wake of this change, the area’s Department of Health and Hospital’s immediately began campaigning to educate people about the healthcare options available to them, which included several other hospitals and medical centers that planned to expand their hours and services to meet increased demand. Now, following the first stage of these altered services, it appears that these efforts were successful: on its first day of expanded hours, LSU Health Baton Rouge Mid City Urgent Care reportedly saw its patients increase by more than 50%.
LSU Health Baton Rouge Mid City Urgent Care has two locations: the Mid City Urgent Care Clinic, which typically averages 20 patients a day, and the LSU Health Baton Rouge Urgent Care North, a 24-hour clinic which usually treats 120 patients. However, when the Mid City clinic changed its hours on Sunday, March 23, the urgent care center saw 44 patients seeking urgent help. The facility is now open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Meanwhile, the LSU Health Baton Rouge North clinic, which plans to expand its diagnostic services, provided care for 139 patients.
The urgent care centers, which are operated by Our Lady of the Lake health system, are only two of the area’s medical clinics that have planned or implemented changes to their services to adjust to increased demand. For example, Our Lady of the Lake Hospital increased its emergency room’s and mental health capacity, while the affiliated LSU Health added evening hours and same-day appointments to its pediatric clinic. However, a number of critics and local residents have pointed out that these changes still left the Mid City and North Baton Rouge areas without emergency room services. In response, representatives from Our Lady at the Lake commented that they believed the neighborhood care model would provide patients with the best care in an appropriate setting.
Urgent care experts across the United States have echoed this claim, stating that urgent help can be a helpful and beneficial treatment option for a variety of non-life-threatening conditions. Moreover, urgent care has become an extremely popular choice for patients due to its affordable cost and convenient services.
The decision to close Baton Rouge General’s Mid City emergency room came after the hospital announced it was losing money due to an influx of uninsured patients. While the hospital did receive additional funding in August 2014, officials say it was not enough to keep the emergency room open on a long-term basis. The facility will officially close on March 31.