POSTED: Monday, July 19, 2010 - 5:29pm
UPDATED: Monday, July 19, 2010 - 5:36pm
The plan has been in the works for two years and now all the parts are in place for Our Lady of the Lake hospital to open it's doors to the LSU Medical Program and it's patients.
The final stamp of approval came from the federal government. They approved the plan and agreed to pay Medicaid and Medicare benefits to OLOL when their new collaboration with LSU begins in late 2013.
OLOL President and CEO Scott Wester is excited about the move, saying "it's wonderful to take these two very strong assets, Our Lady of the Lake and LSU and do something that I think this community will look back on and say that it was definitely the right thing."
LSU Medical students and staff will move to OLOL's campus on Essen Lane, and Wester says he's ready for them. "We have a great master facility plan. We've already talked to city officials about traffic and congestion and I think we've got some good, innovative things that are going to come out of this."
After the move, Earl K Long will function primarily as a clinic, with a new 24 hour urgent care facility built in North Baton Rouge. At OLOL, $200 million of improvements are planned, including up to 100 new patient beds and a medical education building. But the biggest improvement is an overhaul of the city's busiest emergency room. When complete, OLOL's E.R. will be the size of a football field and elevated to a Level One Trauma Center, one of only three in the state.
That's a big incentive for doctors-in-training to stay in Baton Rouge. Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine says "competing with America's best residency programs is a big factor here and when you consider OLOL they do 35,000 admissions a year they do 80,000 E.R. visits a year, it's a major institution that's going to be far more competitive with University of Alabama at Birmingham and other teaching hospitals than say E.K.L was capable of being."
A bigger picture that Levine says benefits all of Baton Rouge. "I think five years from now people are going to be looking back and say what took us so long to do this. That’s how good I think this is going to be for the community," said Levine.
Our Lady of the Lake will not care for Earl K. Long's Obstetrics patients or prisoners. Secretary Levine is meeting with Woman's Hospital today to negotiate an arrangement for those O.B. patients. There is no word yet on which private hospital will absorb the seven to 10 prisoner patients treated at E.K.L everyday.