City and state leaders are asking the public to envision a new future and direction for the shuttered Earl K. Long Medical Center in north Baton Rouge.
Political leaders will hold a meeting this week for community members to pitch ideas for the closed hospital site. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the S.E. Mackey Community Center on 6543 Ford Street.
State Senator Sharon Weston Broome, State Representative Regina Barrow and Metro Council member Ronnie Edwards are among the political leaders organizing the meeting. They expect the discussion to take several turns, ranging from economic development to the best use of the space for children and families.
The hospital closed in spring 2013, and should be demolished by late this year. Many outpatient centers, physician training and medical educational programs were moved to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in the southern part of the city.
Nearly 780 state employees at Earl K. Long lost their jobs as a result of the closure. Our Lady of the Lake reported at the time that they hired around 350 people –90 percent of which were former Earl K. Long employees — to work at their hospital and their newly assumed outpatient centers.
The closure of Earl K. Long also left a void in prisoner care, as the hospital served multiple prisons in the area. Sheriff Sid Gautreaux has lamented prisoners’ lack of access to adequate medical care, especially mental health treatment, since the hospital’s closure.
Broome and Barrow, who represent the parts of the city most affected by the closure, both criticized the amount of unanswered questions and lack of planning for the future when the hospital was first closed.