Trends in Health Care
In your neighborhood soon
|Oschner is building a greater presence in the Capital Region as it takes on new facilities.|
Since the 1940s, Ochsner has been a major health care provider in the Greater New Orleans area. Since the mid-2000s, it has become an increasingly significant player in Baton Rouge as well.
In the past seven years, Ochsner has invested more than $30 million in the market, acquiring and renovating a hospital, constructing several freestanding clinics, and building a network of providers that serves patients primarily in the outlying areas of the Capital Region. Ochsner now employs nearly 150 physicians and sees an average of 25,000 patients per month in and around Baton Rouge. Those numbers are expected to increase when its newest facility, in Howell Place, in north Baton Rouge opens later this year.
“We're pretty much expanding everywhere at this point,” says Eric McMillen, interim CEO and chief operating officer of Ochsner Baton Rouge. “The goal is to bring health care close to the patients in underserved areas.”
Though Ochsner has had satellite facilities throughout south Louisiana since the early 1980s—the clinic on Bluebonnet Boulevard was its first—the institution's primary focus for decades was as a regional, tertiary care facility in Jefferson Parish, just across the parish line from New Orleans. The facility there has long attracted patients from Latin America and beyond, and its multispecialty clinic served as a feeder to the hospital.
During the tumultuous changes to the heath care industry that managed care brought about in the 1990s, Ochsner maintained its market dominance by creating its own managed care network, which kept providers and patients within a closed system of care. (It has since discontinued its insurance programs.) At the same time, Ochsner began to diversify—through wellness facilities and services, for instance. It also started branching out into other parts of the region, acquiring provider groups, clinics, and specialty hospitals.
Baton Rouge—a market long dominated by Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, with the exception of obstetrics care, which Woman's Hospital has enjoyed preeminence—initially played a nominal role in Ochsner's regional expansion. After Hurricane Katrina, however, when the population along the Interstate 12 corridor and Ascension Parish began to explode, Ochsner saw an opportunity to bring patient care to what its executives characterize as an underserved part of the area.
“We think there are a lot of areas in Baton Rouge that can utilize health care services, particularly on the I-12 side of town,” McMillen says. “The strategy is to be where the patients are and where the health care is not.”
Ochsner isn't alone in bringing patient care to the outskirts of the metro area, as Louisiana Hospital Association CEO John Matessino is quick to point out. OLOL has also been branching out all over the Capital Region, and it has a considerably larger market share than Ochsner.
“This is really part of a larger trend in health services,” Matessino says. “They're trying to bring the services to the people instead of having one, giant place and making people go there.”
That said, Matessino acknowledges that Ochsner is clearly muscling its way into the Baton Rouge market.
“They are certainly growing and making their presence felt here in Baton Rouge,” he says.
Ochsner's growth locally really took off in 2008 with the acquisition of the former Summit Hospital, just off I-12 at O'Neal Lane. Ochsner spent more than $5 million purchasing and renovating the facility, which included an overhaul of the ICU and emergency room as well as the addition of new rooms for outpatients. Now known as Ochsner Medical Center-Baton Rouge, the facility includes a clinic and serves as the anchor of operations for Ochsner's growing network of primary care clinics throughout the metro area.
“We've grown quite a bit since opening in 2008,” says McMillen, who estimates the hospital's market share has grown by 5% since it opened.
In 2010, the hospital discharged more than 7,000 patients, according to Ochsner's annual report. That's about 12% of total patients at all seven of Ochsner's acute-care hospitals, including its main campus.
Ochsner officials locally say their market share has grown since then and will continue to increase. That's in part because of a new birthing center Ochsner opened in 2010. The anticipated increase is due to a new cancer center that is currently under construction and is scheduled for completion next year.
They expect growth will also come from the hospital's primary care clinics, which have been popping up all over the metro area. Since 2010, Oschner has opened clinics in Denham Springs, Central and Prairieville. Later this year it will open a new clinic in Howell Place within the existing Greater Baton Rouge Surgical Hospital. The north Baton Rouge facility will have two full-time primary care providers, as well as a rotating bank of specialists.
Dr. Teddy Knatt, an orthopedic surgeon and part-owner of GBRSH, says Ochsner is wise to move into the wide-open and underserved market of north Baton Rouge.
“We have $6 billion worth of industrial business along that Mississippi River corridor, and there is very little health care in the area,” Knatt says. “There is a big demand for primary care physicians up here and a big void.”
Ochsner officials also believe there is a void on the west side of the river. That's why in Plaquemine they're building the Ochsner Health Center- Iberville. The facility will include a free-standing emergency department, a clinic and outpatient treatment facility, as well as diagnostic and testing labs, and is scheduled to open in 2014.
By then, other facilities will likely be in the works—both from Ochsner and other providers. At least, that's the prediction from market experts, who say Ochsner is making a smart move by taking patient care to the fast-growing segments of the area. But it's not alone in its approach.
“You look around the country and there are states now where every hospital and treatment center is affiliated with one of about four major hospitals,” says Matessino. “You're going to see more and more of that here in Louisiana. That's what Ochsner is doing.”
Ochsner facilities, present and future.
1 Ochsner Health Center, Bluebonnet
The first of Ochsner's facilities in Baton Rouge, located on Bluebonnet and Summa, it was constructed in the early 1980s and includes a full-service clinic, an urgent-care clinic, numerous speciality practices and diagnostic lab services.
2 Ochsner Medical Center Baton Rouge
The former Summit Hospital, at O'Neal Lane off I-12, was acquired by Ochsner in 2008. The full-service hospital, which is licensed for 157 beds, includes a newly renovated ICU and ER, as well as a new birthing center, that opened in 2010. A cancer center is scheduled to open there next summer.
3 Ochsner Health Center, Denham Springs
The clinic, located on Highway 16, offers several full-time primary care physicians, as well as a rotating group of specialists.
4 Ochsner Health Center, Jefferson Place
This clinic was formerly located on North Boulevard at Baton Rouge General's Mid City campus. It relocated to Jefferson Highway in 2010 and has a staff of four primary care physicians, with a rotation of specialists.
5 Ochsner Health Center, Prairieville
Located on Airline Highway, this clinic opened in 2010. It has a staff of primary care physicians, with a rotation of specialists.
6 Ochsner Health Center, Central
Ochsner's newest clinic opened in late 2011 on Sullivan Road. Its staff includes primary care physicians and specialists, as well as lab and X-ray services.
7 Ochsner Health Center, North Baton Rouge
This clinic will be located in Howell Place inside the Greater Baton Rouge Surgical Hospital. It will have one full-time physician as well as another primary care provider and a rotating bank of specialists. The facility is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2012.
8 Ochsner Health Center, Iberville
Ochsner's first facility on the west side of the Mississippi River will be located on Highway 1 in Plaquemine and is scheduled for completion in 2013. It will include a clinic, emergency department, outpatient services, and diagnostic and testing services.
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