Our state continues to face a nearly $70 million budget shortfall and health care funding is at risk.

I have worked in emergency medicine for more than 25 years, treating patients and educating future doctors. University Medical Center in New Orleans is a shining example of what a teaching hospital can and should be, caring for all patients, regardless of ability to pay.

As the only Level 1 Trauma Center in the region, if you or a family member are in a car accident, critical, life-saving care is available here. Without UMC, the nearest Level 1 Trauma Center is hours away, and the difference in treatment time to transport critically ill patients would cost lives. Whether it is an unforeseen car accident or routine care, UMC provides care that can mean the difference between life and death.

Any budget cuts would also impact the students and universities that we support. UMC trains more than 2,400 future health care providers through our teaching programs. Our future providers that will care for us during our time of need will train and practice elsewhere.

An investment in health care is an investment in our community, our economy and our future. Louisiana must protect and prioritize funding for critically needed health care services.

Dr. Peter DeBlieux

chief medical officer, UMC New Orleans

New Orleans