BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - When the state charity hospital Earl K. Long closed in April 2013, many residents without insurance or those who are underinsured were left with one less access point for care.
"In this community with the closure of Earl K. Long and the mental health emergency room, patients have been struggling to find out where they should go for care," said Dr. Floyd Roberts, chief medical officer at Baton Rouge General Hospital.
Roberts explains that many patients who depended on Earl K. Long have now turned to other local emergency rooms for primary care which is part of a growing problem of inappropriate E.R. use. For example, Baton Rouge General's Midcity E.R. has seen an addition of several hundred uninsured or underinsured patients a month since 2013.
Federal data indicates that from 2008 to 2012, there was a seven percent increase in ER visits nationwide.