More Baton Rouge area residents will die as a result of the March 31 closure of the emergency room at Baton Rouge General Medical Center’s Mid City campus, a leader in the Together Baton Rouge movement said Tuesday.
The Jindal administration tells people there is sufficient emergency room capacity for the area and not to worry, Broderick Bagert said.
But Bagert said a major new study indicates there is a big reason for concern — mortality rates rise in cities where ERs have been closed, he said. “There’s a 5 percent increase in mortality rates,” Bagert said.
Together Baton Rouge is a coalition of community-based organizations and church leaders.
Bagert said the California study also reveals that heart attack and stroke patients faced a 15 percent greater risk of dying in the hospital they were taken to if there had been an emergency room closure nearby.
Bagert said the emergency room closures have ripple effects throughout the surrounding area. Emergency medical services personnel have farther to take patients and then cannot leave the patient until they are accepted in the ER, he said. At the same time, calls are coming in from others who need assistance but have to wait, he said.
The General Mid City closure won’t only have an effect in that area but in downtown, West Baton Rouge and throughout the region, Bagert said.
The General announced Feb. 4 that it would close its emergency room in 60 days, citing a loss of $2 million a month due to uninsured patients entering its doors. The number of uninsured patients escalated after the state closed LSU’s Earl K. Long Medical Center on Airline Highway in north Baton Rouge in April 2013. LSU inpatient care and medical education programs moved to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center off Essen Lane in south Baton Rouge. The General’s Mid City hospital was the closest to the Earl.
The Jindal administration announced plans to expand urgent care clinics in the midcity area. Officials started an education campaign to try to steer residents without major medical problems to them.
Together Baton Rouge is working to “bring pressure to bear on key decision-makers to adequately address the withdrawal of emergency services from the heart of Baton Rouge.”
Bagert presented a report outlining the causes and consequences of the Mid City emergency room closure to a Together Baton Rouge gathering on the St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church campus.