POSTED: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 - 4:30pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 9:15pm
Baton Rouge, LA (NBC33) — A politician's persistence paid off for the women of Baton Rouge.
CATS announced Tuesday that it has launched three types of service to Woman's Hospital.
"I cannot really share with you my level of excitement," said State Rep. Regina Barrow (D-Baton Rouge).
CATS will provide a shuttle between the hospital and its nearest existing stop, at the intersection of Airline Highway and Siegen Lane/Sherwood Forest. Rep. Barrow made a public demonstration in January of the fact that people who depend on the bus had to walk two miles from that stop to get to Woman's Hospital.
"I'm glad to know that no woman will be in jeopardy of getting here by having to walk from Sherwood Forest to this hospital," she said Tuesday. "But now, she will now have access by bus of getting here safely."
CATS is offering a new route along the medical complex corridor, linking Woman's Hospital to Our Lady of The Lake, Baton Rouge General (Bluebonnet campus), and Ochsner. That route will also stop at the Mall of Louisiana, where riders can transfer into the rest of the system.
CATS will also provide free bus rides for patients who went to any of those hospitals in an ambulance and have no way home, and a shuttle connecting Woman's to the nearest bus stop.
She has that bus because Representative Regina Barrow spent months campaigning for it. She even walked the two miles from Sherwood Forest, down Airline Highway, to the hospital to prove a point. Along the way, she got the attention of CATS, and they spent six months coming up with this plan.
"We have been constantly working behind the scenes so we can deliver on the promises and deliver services to the citizens of Baton Rouge," said CATS board chairman Isaiah Marshall, "and this is just one that we have today that shows that CATS actually cares."
Getting to medical care became even tougher after Earl K. Long Memorial Hospital closed for good in April, and its women's clinic transferred into the hands of Woman's.
"We have been certainly concerned, as our community has been going through transitions as it relates to health care delivery," said State Sen. Sharon Weston Broome (D-Baton Rouge).
While Rep. Barrow was very pleased with the announcement of the new services, she said their hours of operation left room for improvement.
"The routes are limited in time, and so that's something that I would hope, in the future, is definitely explored."
The shuttle between Woman's Hospital and the Airline-Siegen/Sherwood Forest stop will run five days a week from 5:30-9:30 a.m. and from 2:30-6:30 p.m.
The medical complex corridor route will operate from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. seven days a week.