LSU Health Baton Rouge will open its second urgent care clinic Dec. 15 at MidCity Clinic, officials announced Thursday.

The center, 1401 N. Foster Drive, will be open seven days a week. The hours will be 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday. Weekend hours will be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Patients will not need appointments.

LSU Health already operates a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, urgent care center at its facility on Airline Highway in north Baton Rouge. It is a short distance from LSU’s now closed Earl K. Long Regional Medical Center.

LSU Health Baton Rouge is a division of Our Lady of the Lake, which also includes a Regional Medical Center, dedicated Children’s Hospital, 300-provider Physician Group network and freestanding emergency room in Livingston Parish.

The expansion into midcity comes as Baton Rouge General MidCity hospital has experienced major increases in its emergency room traffic. An increase in poor and uninsured patients and the financial losses associated with them led General’s board to vote to close the emergency room to stay afloat. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration stepped in with an infusion of money to cover projected losses, and the decision was reversed.

In addition, the state Medicaid program is plagued by overuse of expensive emergency rooms for nonurgent care. Insurance companies now handling about 900,000 Medicaid recipients continue to try to discourage the practice among their members, but the trend continues.

“We want to make sure everyone in the community has timely and affordable access to care ,” Laura Davis, LSU Health Baton Rouge administrator, said in a news release announcing the move.

“Urgent care clinics can meet the needs of at least 70 percent of the patients who currently rely on the emergency room for minor illnesses or their primary care. Delays in medical care compromise health and often lead to higher costs. Our goal is to serve the everyday health needs of the community in a familiar and convenient location, in the right setting, at the right time,” Davis said.

Urgent care centers are staffed and equipped to cost-efficiently treat a variety of minor conditions and injuries, including eye or ear infections, sprains or strains, possible broken bones, flu, fever or minor burns. Those common ailments often drive emergency room visits but can be more conveniently and quickly treated in an urgent care setting.

“We welcome LSU and Our Lady of the Lake’s efforts ... to increase access to care for its patients,” said Nicole Kleinpeter, the General’s vice president for marketing and communications. Kleinpeter said Baton Rouge’s emergency room usage rate is 17 percent higher than U.S. benchmarks.

LSU Health Baton Rouge operates five community clinics, including a pharmacy, urgent care clinic and surgery center. All locations accept insurance and offer financial support based on individual need. The LSU Health Baton Rouge clinics and urgent care serve more than 600 patients a day.

The clinic on Airline Highway has served more than 40,000 patients alone since opening in April 2013. The LSU Patient Help Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1-877-578-8255.

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