At least two new freestanding emergency rooms could soon be coming to Mid-City and New Orleans East.
The southeast Louisiana-based Ochsner Health System and the Texas-based Adeptus Health announced plans in September to build stand-alone ERs in the New Orleans area, though the two organizations did not say how many facilities they would build or where those emergency rooms would be located.
According to applications recently filed with the city, however, the groups are eyeing at least two parcels of land — one on the corner of South Carrollton Avenue and Canal Street, and another on Bullard Avenue.
The South Carrollton Avenue plan has been approved by the City Planning Commission’s Design Advisory Committee, documents show, while the Bullard plan has not yet received its clearance.
When finalized, the moves could put New Orleans in line with a national trend. Freestanding emergency rooms are popping up more frequently in cities and suburbs across the United States as health providers work to cater to patients sick of long waits in crowded, conventional ERs. The facilities differ from urgent care clinics, because the emergency rooms are usually open around the clock and provide quick treatment in life-threatening situations.
They have been controversial, as some patients have confused the new ERs with the often-cheaper urgent care clinics and cried foul after being slapped with expensive bills.
Some emergency rooms also are not affiliated with hospitals and cannot accept Medicaid or Medicare because they are not recognized by the federal office that governs those programs, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians.
However, the two New Orleans emergency facilities in the works will be affiliated with Ochsner, in partnership with Adeptus, the parent company to the leading independent freestanding ER network, First Choice Emergency Room.
One facility would be just blocks from the Ochsner Health Center on North Carrollton Avenue that provides primary care, while the other would compete with the New Orleans East Hospital’s emergency room.
This is not Ochsner’s first foray into the freestanding ER market. It opened a stand-alone ER in Iberville Parish in 2014, though that facility is part of an Ochsner Medical Complex that provides primary care and other services. Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center runs another freestanding ER in Livingston Parish.
Ochsner’s 8,100-square-foot South Carrollton Avenue building would have 32 parking spaces for patients as well as patient and ambulance drop-off areas, documents show. Proposed signage indicates that it will be open around the clock. The 7,431-square-foot Bullard Avenue building would have 25 parking spaces and a similar layout and operating hours, documents indicate.
Ochsner President and CEO Warner Thomas declined Tuesday to give estimated construction dates for the facilities and would not say what prompted expansions to the East and Mid-City. He did say that through the Adeptus partnership, officials have identified multiple potential ER sites, which means the two in the works could be the first of many.
“We are finalizing the process of securing, planning and permitting the sites for these new facilities,” Thomas said.
Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA.