Council defers on Baton Rouge Health District item, ponders accompanying resolution
Though sponsors of an agenda item to incorporate the Baton Rouge Health District into the city-parish’s master plan had asked for its removal, the Metro Council Zoning Committee took up the matter Wednesday but deferred a vote until next week’s regular council meeting.
At that meeting, the council will also discuss and possibly vote on a resolution asking three major hospitals in Baton Rouge—Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, Baton Rouge General Medical Center and Ochsner Medical Center Baton Rouge—to consider entering into a patient transfer agreement with Champion Medical Center on Harding Boulevard, which is being groomed as a possible emergency medical facility for the north Baton Rouge area.
The resolution would be nonbinding and the council cannot force the hospitals to sign the agreement, several members noted.
Baton Rouge General Medical Center spokeswoman Meghan Parrish says hospital officials are working on a statement regarding the patient transfer agreement, but it was not completed as of this morning’s deadline. Representatives from the other two hospitals were unable to be reached this morning.
In February, the council deferred the item for 90 days. The Planning Commission asked for the item to be withdrawn less than a week after the deferral, but it still needed to be placed on Wednesday’s agenda since the council took action in February.
Planning Director Frank Duke told Daily Report on Monday that the Health District can move forward without the land-use designation, which appears to be the case. Health district officials have recently issued a request for proposals for consultants to create an implementation plan for a diabetes and obesity center, a centerpiece project for the district. Submissions for proposals are due on July 1.
When the item came up on Wednesday, members of the #NBR Now Blue Ribbon Commission, created by Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniel, asked the council to put a little pressure on the hospitals to consider the agreement because Champion Medical cannot keep a patient for more than 96 hours.
The Blue Ribbon Commission has been working with two Dallas-based companies to expand the surgical hospital’s services and become a critical access hospital.
“I think we can be in support of this if the council encourages this,” commission member Cleve Dunn Jr. told the council, noting the group opposed the Baton Rouge Health District item when it previously came up because it does not include north Baton Rouge.
“I say let’s defer it, let’s have those conversations, lets recommend that partnership and that transfer agreement so that Champion patients won’t have to go (outside the city and) outside the parish to Zachary at Lane Memorial or to Gonzales at St. Elizabeth’s, where they currently have transfer agreements in place,” he said.