As Southwest Louisiana prepares for explosive growth from industrial expansion, the region's health-care providers are keeping pace by adding services and investing in infrastructure to provide residents with the highest quality of care.
“Over the past 18 months, our patient volumes have skyrocketed, leaving us bursting at the seams in several core areas,” says Lisa A. Guerrero, marketing director for Lake Area Medical Center in Lake Charles.
In 2014, the medical center had roughly 2,700 emergency room visits, performed 5,000 surgeries and had about 49,000 outpatient visits, Guerrero says. To meet the community need for more specialty care options, it recruited 18 physicians, added a new $6 million, 5,500-square-foot MRI and Wound Care Center with hyperbaric chambers, launched a robotic-assisted surgery service line and built the newest cardiac catheterization lab in the area.
"Our future plans include adding additional patient rooms and operating suites to accommodate this growth and the community need," Guerrero says. Lake Charles Memorial Health System, which includes Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, Lake Charles Memorial Hospital for Women, Memorial Specialty Hospital, and W.O. Moss Memorial Health Clinic, is the largest community-owned, and only full-service, health system in Southwest Louisiana. Moss Memorial, which was acquired in 2013, offers primary care, cardiology, gastroenterology, orthopedics, gynecology, pediatrics and oncology services. It also provides access to specialists in areas such as urology and neurosurgery, previously available only in Shreveport. In 2014, the health system began expanding its emergency services and intensive care unit and also broke ground on a new medical office building in southwest Lake Charles.
“We invest tens of millions of dollars each year in bringing in new physicians and expanding and upgrading our facilities," says Matt Felder, communications manager for the Lake Charles Memorial Health System. "To date, more than $117 million in capital projects have been implemented, including expansion and renovation of our cath lab and our surgery, sterile processing, rehabilitation, pediatrics and gastroenterology centers.”
Caring for Communities
Southwest Louisiana residents are fortunate to have a number of options for quality health care, including CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital in Lake Charles, whose services range from pediatrics to geriatric care. In 2015, the hospital opened a Chest Pain Center, accredited by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care, and it will soon introduce a three-year surgical residency program in podiatric medicine. West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital (WCCH) provides Sulphur as well as the surrounding communities of West Calcasieu and Cameron parishes with access to experienced physicians, skilled health-care professionals, the latest medical technology and an unsurpassed tradition of caring for patients. Over the past five years, more than $22 million has been spent on capital projects to expand and renovate the hospital, allowing WCCH to continue to provide the most advanced technology and best care to patients.
Recently the hospital renovated its Women's Center with newly remodeled birthing suites designed for labor, delivery and recovery that allow mothers the convenience of staying in the same room to recover after giving birth. The stay for mother and baby then continues in a newly remodeled private mother-baby suite.
These renovations, coupled with cutting-edge technology, well-respected OB/GYNs, a certified nurse midwife and an exceptional clinical staff, make WCCH among the region's most popular birthing centers. A recent addition to WCCH is the Westlake Diagnostic Center that provides state-of-the-art CT, ultrasound and X-ray equipment as well as services for lab draw and echocardiograms.
In Sulphur, Cornerstone Hospital Southwest Louisiana offers acute care for pulmonary and wound care management and for patients requiring medical rehabilitation. Community hospitals, such as South Cameron Memorial Hospital, DeQuincy Memorial Hospital, Beauregard Memorial Hospital, Jennings American Legion Hospital, Allen Parish Hospital and Oakdale Community Hospital, also provide critical emergency and primary care services. Residents in Southwest Louisiana can expect not only high-quality health care, but also lower health-care costs. Online consumer health site BetterDoctor.com ranked Lake Charles third in the nation for decreasing health-care costs, which translates to a shot in the arm for the local economy.
“Keeping employees healthy is a huge cost savings for businesses,” Guerrero says. “Having facilities in place that are able to handle not only the family members of the workers moving into the area, but also those who get injured on the job means these employees don't have to travel for proper care and have loss of work, or production time – and that's a big deal for companies.”