Prairieville is getting a second micro hospital, which will have 10 beds, a 24-hour emergency department and imaging and lab services at the intersection of La. 42 and Airline Highway.

Prairieville Family Hospital is set to open in mid-spring, said Dr. John McLean, a Shreveport physician and one of the owners of Austin, Texas-based Family Health Systems. The 10,000-square-foot facility will be Family Health's fourth.

Its opening is targeted ahead of Baton Rouge General's planned 2019 startup for much larger 60,000-square-foot BRG Ascension neighborhood hospital on La. 73 in the Dutchtown/Prairieville area.

Family Health Systems has two micro hospitals in Austin and expects to open a third in the Austin area by the end of the year. Family Health expects to add three additional hospitals by the end of 2018, but McLean said it is too early to disclose the sites for those facilities.

"We have multiple locations throughout the country. We're looking to bring kind of a different flavor and business model ... We really want to get the local physicians, especially emergency room doctors, involved in their own local facility and not a very large health care organization that's managed by large corporate companies," McLean said. 

Under the Family Health model, the local emergency room doctors would form their own management team to run the facility. Family Health, which is owned by five doctors, provides oversight. 

Prairieville Family will employ four full-time physicians and will start with a staff of about 20 people, McLean said. The hospital also hopes to network with primary care physicians. 

McLean, a board-certified ER and internal medicine physician, graduated from LSU and then LSU's Medical School in Shreveport. He's familiar with the area. When Family Health was looking for potential sites, McLean thought Prairieville made sense.

Residents don't want to hop on the interstate and drive 15 or 20 minutes to get to a hospital, he said. They would rather seek treatment in their own neighborhood.

Lyndean Lenhoff Brick, president and chief executive officer with the Murer Group health care management consultants, said health care consumerism is one of the many trends driving the growth in micro hospitals. 

"The consumer wants a choice, and they want to be able to have immediate access to care ... They want it delivered in a way they want it delivered. They don't want to drive. They want it sort of on demand," Brick said. 

Another trend contributing to the increase in micro hospitals is the proliferation of urgent care facilities, she said. Sometimes those clinics don't meet the needs of patients, so lots of micro hospitals have an emergency room attached, which means patients can get a higher level of care in a more convenient setting.

Brick said there are about 150 micro hospitals now, up from 98 or so in 2016.

Two of the new facilities were announced in the Baton Rouge area. In June, Ochsner Health System announced plans for a 30,000-square-foot micro-hospital and surgical center in The Grove development near the Mall of Louisiana. Less than two months later, Baton Rouge General announced plans BRG Ascension, a $30 million facility that will include a lab and a 14-bed emergency room, physician practices and office space.

The Family Health and BRG Ascension facilities will be competing with St. Elizabeth Hospital in Gonzales, a 78-bed facility that's part of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System. St. Elizabeth has a 17-bed emergency room and had 37,000 ER visits in 2016, 180,000 physician office visits, 55,233 urgent care visits and over 130,000 hospital encounters, according to the health system.

McLean said there is plenty of room for multiple facilities in the rapidly growing area. Prairieville Family Hospital hopes to set itself apart with service. For example, the facility won't have a cafeteria, he said. Instead, it will allow patients to order from local restaurants and have those meals delivered.

Although the number of micro hospitals jumped roughly 50 percent nationally this year, Brick expects that growth to slow.

In September the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said all hospitals, including micro hospitals, must be primarily engaged in inpatient care, she said. Micro hospitals will have to meet a lot of requirements, including providing the services of a hospital, being structured as a hospital and being governed as a hospital.

"You can't be just building a glorified outpatient facility with an emergency room and no hospital beds," Brick said.

If a micro hospital can't meet all of the requirements, CMS will shut it down, she said.

Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.