After about 16 months under construction, a renovated outpatient surgery center inside the Baton Rouge General Center for Health is expected to schedule its first patient in the coming weeks.

The medical office building sits across the street from Baton Rouge General Medical Center, which spent $12 million for the expansion of the 140,000-square-foot building by about 11,000 square feet on the ground floor. 

There are six new operating rooms, one of which is expected to be dedicated for robotic same-day surgeries. 

"We have a lot of demand for operating rooms across the street and we knew that demand was going to continue to grow," said Edgardo Tenreiro, chief executive officer of Baton Rouge General. "A lot of the outpatient work done at the hospital now will be done here. We're increasing capacity." 

The expansion will allow surgeons to work more seamlessly and operate on more patients throughout the day without waiting for a hospital bed to open. For patients, the outpatient procedures would range from orthopedic surgery to gall bladder removal. 

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"Robots are very important for surgeons and a lot of outpatient procedures are done with the robot; it was expensive but it was worthwhile," he said. 

The project was planned before the coronavirus pandemic began. At the beginning of the pandemic, elective procedures were postponed by state mandate but have since resumed. 

"During the pandemic, we kept the construction going because we knew that there was going to be additional pent-up demand for delayed surgeries," Tenreiro said. 

There are other providers in the center. Williamson Eye Center opened a clinic at the site alongside the Interventional Pain Institute, a pain management center and an outpatient rehabilitation clinic. Baton Rouge General's graduate medical program and lymphedema therapy clinic, which treats cases of abnormal fluid buildup under the skin, are also in the building. The Children's Hospital New Orleans Specialty Center has a specialty pediatric clinic in the center as well. The building was leased previously by Ochsner Health System until it relocated to The Grove.

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