Metro Council Approves Resolution To Encourage Baton Rouge Hospitals To Work With Urgency Proposed In Controversial Meeting | New

As the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council approved a measure on Wednesday asking local hospitals to work with a proposed emergency room for medically underserved northern Baton Rouge, President Mayor Kip Holden said that members created an imbalanced business environment that favored one company over others.

The non-binding resolution encourages three hospitals in Baton Rouge to start discussions on transferring patients from a possible emergency room that a Texas-based company offers at its Howell Place Surgical Center. While the emergency room could treat short-term patients, those who need acute care and a hospital stay beyond a few days would have to be moved to a larger hospital.

Holden objected to some council members regarding access to health care and economic development in northern Baton Rouge. While some advocates have complained about insufficient access to health care in this area, Holden argued that existing services have served the entire parish well.

The split between Holden and the board added to the controversial nature of the meeting. Council members disagreed over whether it was appropriate for the government to interfere in business, especially when the proposed emergency room at Champion Medical Center has yet to funding.

“It just allows you to have a transparent process for healthcare,” said Chauna Banks-Daniel, co-sponsor of the resolution, of the proposed patient transfer agreements. “We are talking about patients who have acute health care needs and who need the capabilities of an acute care (care) hospital. It is not a third world country; it is not a third world city.

But Holden said the resolution would set a horrific precedent.

“I don’t think anyone can really remember something of this magnitude where the board is trying to interfere with private companies and trying to dictate to them or get someone else involved in what’s going on,” said an enraged Holden within six minutes critical of the resolution. “I don’t know when we picked an entity to say we want other companies to help that entity. “

Holden and some board members have said they should not support a for-profit hospital business’s quest to create patient transfer agreements with local non-profit Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center hospitals. , Baton Rouge General Medical Center, and Ochsner Health System.

“Now the sign will go up if you pass this,” Holden said. “Come to Baton Rouge: not only will we give you tax credits, but our board will encourage other entities to do business with you. And PS, no credit check and no delay.

Banks-Daniel, John Delgado, Ryan Heck, Trae Welch, LaMont Cole, Erika Green, Donna Collins-Lewis and Tara Wicker voted for the resolution. Joel Boé, Chandler Loupe, Buddy Amoroso and Scott Wilson voted against.

Boé and Holden both pointed to the millions of dollars in funding that Champion’s owning company, Next Health LLC, said it would need to run the emergency room. Next Health said it wants $ 6-6.5 million to build and operate it in the first year and $ 3-3.5 million per year to operate it in subsequent years.

Banks-Daniel said at the meeting that the money would come from the state government.

But the state government struggled to fund existing health care resources across Louisiana. For many weeks, it was not clear whether the safety net hospitals that receive money from the state to treat the poor would continue to receive that money, given the state’s deficit.

The legislature moved $ 72 million the popular Taylor Opportunities Student Scholarship Program to fund contracts with nine of these hospitals. But hospital contracts are being renegotiated, and Notre-Dame du Lac de Baton Rouge – which has the partnership with the state – threatened a few months ago to withdraw if the hospital was not sufficiently funded.

Boé said that too much of Wednesday’s conversation was based on rumors and speculation about Champion Medical Center and its funding sources. He called the community “offensive” that the Metro Council encourages private companies to collaborate and bases their reasons for doing so on more than facts.

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“It’s a resolution that tries to find a solution, and you will only find problems with it. Period, ”said Boé. “Please do your homework in advance; please don’t put the cart before the horse.

Wicker, however, said the resolution couldn’t force hospitals to do anything, but could give Champion Medical Center leverage to seek patient transfer agreements. Wicker said she did not see what harm could result from encouraging hospitals to discuss forming partnerships.

Hospitals answered last week at the news that Metro Council was drafting the resolution saying they didn’t know the plans. They said they had not been approached about patient transfer agreements with Champion.

Hospitals have also defended their services: Baton Rouge general health system CEO Mark Slyter said they had no plans to change course; Our Lady of the Lake reminded people of her clinic in northern Baton Rouge; and Ochsner said he has worked with the healthcare community to make sure all of Baton Rouge is served.

The resolution was pushed by members of the #NBRNOW Blue Ribbon Commission, which Banks-Daniel created to deliver healthcare and economic development solutions for north Baton Rouge.

But Loupe pointed out that neither Gary Chambers nor Cleve Dunn Jr. – both members of the commission who lobbied for the resolution – are currently working in the healthcare industry.

“I’m trying to lean on people who have expertise in healthcare, and I’ve met people in this field, so I won’t be supporting this resolution,” Loupe said.

It wasn’t Loupe’s only tense moment with Chambers.

When Cole asked Chambers to talk about Champion’s credibility, which Holden questioned, Chambers gave a lengthy answer that Cole said strayed from his question.

Loupe said he would not allow Chambers to give political speeches instead of answering questions.

“You are all the most disrespectful white boys I have ever met,” Chambers said, prompting Loupe to demand that Chambers be escorted out of the council chamber. Baton Rouge Police Department security led Chambers out of the meeting.

Council members also argued throughout the debate. Collins-Lewis and Boé berated Banks-Daniel for speaking out of order and interrupting them before Wilson, sitting next to Banks-Daniel, exploded against her.

“Listen, you’re in my ear and I’m sick of it,” he fumed. “Can we place an order?” “

Before voting on the resolution, the metropolitan council also approved zoning for the Baton Rouge health district, which had been delayed for months. The district is a non-profit coalition of local hospitals and researchers working to build the area where many medical centers are located in the Essen Lane / Bluebonnet Boulevard / Perkins Road corridor.

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