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Jindal unveils plan to transform health care in Central La.

15th December 2011   ·   0 Comments

The Louisiana Weekly staff reports

Gov. Bobby Jindal unveiled a plan Thursday that he says transform health care in Central Louisiana by dramatically expanding LSU outpatient services and relocating Huey P. Long Medical Center to a state-of-the-art facility at England Airpark. Jindal said the plan has two major components – an expanded primary, preventive and specialty outpatient clinic and a new modern and more efficient in-patient hospital.

Under the new healthcare model, the current outpatient clinic at England Airpark will be moved to a former elementary school across the street from the former military hospital also at England Airpark, and the hospital will be completely renovated to accommodate a new in-patient LSU medical center.

“Here in Central Louisiana, Huey P. Long Medical Center has been the epicenter of health care,” Jindal said. “Indeed, Huey P. Long has operated at its current site since 1939. Without question, the hospital has served the community well for the last 73 years, but as we look to bring Central Louisiana to the forefront of modern healthcare delivery, it’s clear that the facility is outdated and past its lifespan. The reality is that our healthcare system should be focused on outpatient, primary and preventive care.

“Our plan will dramatically increase access to primary and preventive care, better meet patient needs, modernize our infrastructure, and make better use of our health investments in Central Louisiana to serve people here more effectively and efficiently,”?Jindal continued. “This new model meets the vision for health care we have talked about since day one – enhanced access to quality care, partnerships with local communities, consumer choice and responsibility, and smarter use of our resources – which all lead to improved health outcomes and a healthier Louisiana.”

“This is the beginning of a new era of health care for the citizens of this area,” Dr. Robert Barish, Chancellor of LSU Health Shreveport, said Thursday. “While the facility in Pineville has a noble history and a dedicated staff, a newly renovated hospital at England Airpark will provide all the advantages of a 21st -century healthcare facility. With our move to the England Airpark, we will have the ability to tailor our services to better meet the needs of our citizens who will take advantage of these new and more efficient facilities.”

“The consolidation of two campuses into a modern facility, with expanded clinical operations, should result in better preventive care, improved access and more efficient operations,” Blake Chatelain, a member of the LSU?Board of Supervisors, said. This is the right move on behalf of our healthcare team and for the patients of LSU Health. It’s an exciting day for our community.”

The first major component of this new model is an expanded primary, preventive and specialty outpatient clinic. Currently, outpatient clinical hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The new plan will give LSU the ability to provide access to primary and outpatient care twelve hours on Monday through Friday, and eight hours on Saturday for a total of 68 hours each week – a 70 percent increase in clinic hours from what is currently offered today.

Jindal said this change will keep individuals from making more costly and unnecessary emergency room visits. This plan will also expand access to outpatient behavioral health services, which means better preventive care and fewer hospital readmissions for psychiatric patients.

The new model will also locate outpatient and in-patient services much closer together. The facilities will now be across the street from each other – compared to nine miles away currently. Governor Jindal said the location is more convenient when there is a need for referral and makes more sense for medical professionals to work together to improve care across the spectrum.

The second major component of the plan is a new in-patient hospital at England Airpark. The hospital will include a number of new features that cannot currently be provided at Huey P. Long and will better fit the needs of the community.

The state will invest $24.5 million in modernizing the facilities with capital outlay funding. That investment will save the state more than $200 million for the projected cost of replacing the Huey P. Long Medical Center. The England Airpark Authority has committed $5 million in capital toward the project.

On Friday, December 9, the LSU Board of Supervisors was scheduled to review this plan and, once approved, LSU will begin to finalize the lease agreement with the Airpark. Plans call for construction to begin next fall with completion of the new outpatient facility coming in the summer of 2013, and the transition of the inpatient hospital to the Airpark by July 2014.

This article originally published in the December 12, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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