Dec. 10: Major plans revealed for new Baton Rouge Health District involving hospitals, higher education, more _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- BRAF executive vice president John Spain speaks during a press conference, Thursday, December 10, 2015, that was held to unveil the Baton Rouge Health District Master Plan at the Baton Rouge Area Foundation in Downtown Baton Rouge, La.

The Baton Rouge Health District has enlisted chief executives from some of the area’s largest health and research institutions for its founding board of directors, with John Spain, executive vice president of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, serving as chairman.  

The other members are Mark Slyter, General Health System president and CEO, serving as secretary-treasurer; Dr. William Cefalu, executive director of Pennington Biomedical Research Center at LSU; Teri Fontenot, Woman’s Hospital president and CEO; Eric McMillen, Ochsner Medical Center-Baton Rouge CEO; Todd Stevens, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center CEO; Dr. I. Steve Udvarhelyi, Blue Cross Blue and Shield of Louisiana president and CEO; and Scott Wester, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center CEO.

First-year strategies identified by the new board include establishing governance, increasing awareness and developing a strategic plan for the district. In May, the Health District released a Request for Proposals to create a business and implementation plan for a diabetes and obesity center.

“The founding members of the Baton Rouge Health District board of directors are visionary CEOs whose organizations have a significant impact on health care throughout our community” said Suzy Sonnier, health district executive director. “With changes in health care continuing at an incredibly rapid pace, the board of directors is focused on where we want to be as a health care community both now and 20 years down the road.  Working collectively, we can enhance our ability to provide high-quality, cost-effective and outcomes-driven health care in the Baton Rouge area.”

The Baton Rouge Health District will continue to promote improved infrastructure, access and transportation as recommended in the community-developed master plan that was funded by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation at the request of City-Parish government. The master plan, which serves as a foundation for Health District activities, calls for building new roads, sidewalks and paths to reduce traffic and offer transportation choices, while integrating parks to promote better health in the Bluebonnet, Essen Lane and Perkins Road area, where a number of health care facilities are clustered.

Parish government has adopted the infrastructure plan under FuturEBR, which is the  growth strategy for the parish. Mayor-President Kip Holden has pledged to build the first recommended infrastructure project, an extension of Dijon Avenue across Essen to Bluebonnet, a connector to provide traffic relief in the most congested part of the parish.

The master plan, developed by Perkins + Will, in collaboration with city-parish and healthcare leaders, recommends a number of additional strategies including expanding opportunities for increased medical education, development of a clinical trials consortium, and implementation of shared services that could eliminate duplication and reduce costs.