CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - Governor Bobby Jindal says we're embarking on a new era of healthcare – of adapting a public-run, statewide charity hospital system.
Jindal spoke in Lake Charles on Tuesday. He said the state was faced with a choice of putting an end to care for the vulnerable, or finding a new way to deliver healthcare, when Congress cut Medicaid programs by $1.8 billion from the federal government.
But he also said the charity hospital system needed a change. Today, the state has eight of those public-private partnerships – the Lake Charles Memorial and LSU Health System is one of them.
Community leaders, hospital officials and Jindal all praised the public-private partnership on Tuesday.
"In my time as a legislator, up to this point, this has been by far the greatest thing that I've seen happen in the state of Louisiana," said Louisiana House of Representatives Speaker, Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles.
Officials gave an update on the transition which began June 24.
"October 1 gave us 100 days, 100 days of positive progress and great things for our community," said Bernita Brown, Administrator for Moss Memorial Health Clinic.
Jindal said they can now serve more patients and with better service. One example is the conversion of the former ER space on the Moss Campus to an Urgent Care Facility.
"One of the things people didn't understand is with our former charity hospital system, many of those visits to the ER were for non-emergency care. People ended up waiting to get preventative and primary care, there wasn't continuity of care. It wasn't the best way for them to get care, it wasn't the best way for us to deliver that care," said Jindal.
And one of the biggest differences, according to Jindal, is they're no longer having to send patients outside of Lake Charles for specialty care.
"Oftentimes, people were sent as far away as Shreveport or New Orleans, hours away from their families, their loved ones and their support networks to get the specialty care they needed. No longer does that have to happen," explained Jindal.
As a result, transportation costs have declined. But it also translates to cost-savings for taxpayers.
Jindal said, "These partnerships are already on target this year to generate more than $140 million in savings." He continued, "We're reinvesting $20 million to expanded patient care at these hospitals and we think these savings will only increase as these partnerships continue."
Although there were skeptics in the beginning, one doctor is now a believer.
"I've been with LSU for so many years and we used to always say it's not going to happen, patients will suffer, and what not. But in this 100 days, actually, what I've seen is everything was wrong," said Medical Director, Dr. Mohammed Sarwar.
Officials say the partnership has reduced wait times for scheduling appointments and cut down on backlogs.
And there's more to come. Jindal says Lake Charles Memorial also plans to build a $4 million medical office on the existing Moss Campus.
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Here is some information from the Office of the Governor:
The Governor highlighted several historic improvements as a result of the partnership in Lake Charles:
New Urgent Care Clinic and Increased ER Access: Lake Charles Memorial and LSU converted the former ER space on the Moss campus into an urgent care clinic, which is open from 7AM to 10 PM 7 days per week, and the clinic does not require appointments to see a physician. This urgent care center means that many patients treated at the clinic are now seeing physicians and building relationships rather than expensive, impersonal ER visits. Emergency services are still offered for safety net care at Lake Charles Memorial around the clock – and the emergency department has even expanded its patient numbers, seeing an average of 137 patients per day as a result of the partnership.
Prior to the partnership with Lake Charles Memorial, Moss Regional Hospital operated a traditional ER. It had no specialist physicians on staff, and any patients requiring specialty care had to be sent to the ER at Lake Charles Memorial – causing more transportation costs and less efficient care. For example, 190 patients who arrived at the Moss ER last year were transferred to Lake Charles Memorial for care; and another 35 had to be transferred to Christus St. Patrick Hospital.
New Specialty Clinic Care: In addition to the urgent care clinic, numerous other specialty care clinics have been re-established or established for the first time on the Moss campus.
- An orthopedic clinic was introduced for the first time last month and has already served 25 patients, completed 5 surgeries and scheduled another 7. Prior to the partnership, patients requiring a hip replacement surgery were referred to another hospital outside of the Lake Charles area. Today, Lake Charles Memorial has already performed 4-5 of these hip replacement surgeries on Moss patients.
- The breast health clinic was introduced for the first time in July, and 14 surgeries have already been performed there.
- The Gastrointestinal (GI) Clinic is another specialty that was introduced for the first time last month, and it has already served 25 new patients and completed 22 GI procedures.
- The Pulmonary Clinic and the Cardiology Clinic were introduced for the first time in August and together have served more than 120 patients.
- The General Surgery Clinic and the Gynecology Clinic were previously available at Moss, but physicians were seeing very few patients due to staffing constraints. But since July after the transition, 152 general surgeries have been performed and 6 gynecology surgeries have been performed, and an additional 12 more gynecology surgeries are scheduled. In addition, three new gynecology physicians and a new nurse practitioner were added in August, increasing the capabilities of the clinic to see and refer more patients within the local community.
These clinics expand access to care for people in the Southwest Region. Prior to the introduction of these services, patients who needed specialty care were sent to another hospital outside of the Lake Charles region. All of these clinics are staffed by Moss Memorial physicians who are employed by Moss Memorial via a physicians group called RPN. Often before the partnership, appointments with specialists were difficult to schedule and surgeries were even harder to schedule. As a result of the partnership and the addition of these new specialty clinics, patients in the Lake Charles area can now receive care from a specialist in their local community, typically within just 1-2 weeks.
Louisiana House of Representatives Speaker Chuck Kleckley said, "This partnership is giving the people of Southwest Louisiana and the surrounding areas more options for healthcare services. Today because of this partnership, there are more doctors at Moss who can see patients without appointments and wait times and backlogs have been reduced. Additionally, more people can get the care they need close to home instead of having to travel for procedures. These partnerships truly are transforming health care in our state."
Expanded Services: The Governor said that today there are more services available for patients in Lake Charles that did not exist at the former Moss facility before the partnership. These services include:
Electromyography (EMG), sleep studies and nuclear stress tests
Nuclear Multigated Acquisition Scans (or MUGA scans) to test ventricle function in the heart
Hepatobiliary Iminodiacetic Acid Scans (or HIDA scans) of the liver and gallbladder
Bone scans, outpatient therapy rehabilitation, kidney biopsies and cataract surgeries
Additional anticipated hepatology and outpatient kidney dialysis services, allowing more patients to get this care in the Lake Charles community rather than be referred out of town.
Earlier this year, Moss physicians were treating just 5 patients per day. Today, Moss physicians seeing patients at Lake Charles Memorial are treating an average of 25 patients per day – proof that this partnership is expanding access for Louisianians.
Senator Ronnie Johns said, "The new services offered through Moss, Lake Charles Memorial and West Calcasieu Cameron will improve the quality of life and the health of our citizens. I look forward to watching how this partnership grows and continues improving care in the Southwest Region."
More Capacity: Prior to the partnership, Moss physicians were limited in how many patients they could place locally in the Moss hospital to receive inpatient care. This was due to a lack of capacity at the facility, meaning yet again doctors had to send patients out of town. But today, the capacity to care for patients requiring inpatient hospital treatment has increased as a result of the expanded resources and space available to LSU through Lake Charles Memorial.
Reduced Backlogs and Wait Times: As a result of the partnership between LSU and Lake Charles Memorial, previous scheduling backlogs that existed for patients who needed critical services have been reduced. For example, the Governor said that when the partnership took effect in June, there was a backlog of 581 patients waiting to schedule MRIs. To date, all of those patients who needed MRIs either have an appointment scheduled or have completed their MRIs.