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Unique joint venture in Louisiana aims to bring the ER closer to home

by John W. Mitchell , Senior Correspondent
A large Louisiana nonprofit hospital system announced this week it is partnering with a publicly traded company that provides emergency services to widen ER access in the state.

“We recognize that one of the greatest challenges facing the health care industry is the ability to provide access to 24/7 emergency care,” Warner Thomas, president and CEO of Ochsner Health System told HCB News.

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He cited the American College of Emergency Physicians’ 2014 National Report Card that found emergency room care visits on the rise. And the patients who are showing up in the ER are sicker, with more serious injuries and illnesses.

“Through this partnership, we’re addressing this critical need by bringing full-service emergency capabilities to patients who would normally travel more than 30 minutes for care,” said Thomas. “This is more than a convenience. It is a necessity to provide patients with high-quality, potentially lifesaving care in emergency situations.”

Ochsner will partner with for-profit Adeptus Health on the initiative, and the first facilities could open in early 2016, according to Thomas. Adeptus operates First Choice Emergency Room which, according to the company, is the largest and oldest network of freestanding emergency rooms in the country. The company also operates joint partnership ER operations with health systems in Colorado and Arizona.

Ochsner cited the company’s track record in achieving high patient satisfaction and quality outcomes. According to Adeptus, they were awarded the Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award in 2013 and 2014 for exceeding the 95th percentile in patient satisfaction nationwide.

The project will also enhance care through connectivity to the entire Ochsner continuum of care, an important goal under the Affordable Care Act.

“Patients will have access to emergency rooms operated 24/7 with full radiology and lab capabilities onsite,” according to Thomas. “These sites will be fully integrated with our electronic medical record Epic. We would expect that an Ochsner facility would serve as the transfer hospital if a higher level of acuity and inpatient treatment is required.”

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