Ochsner takes control of offsite ER, after Adeptus Health preps for bankruptcy

Ochsner ends partnership with company to run off-site ER

NEW ORLEANS, La.--Ochsner Clinic Foundation took back operational control of its offsite emergency room in Marrero from Adeptus Health, Inc., terminating the partnership the two entered into in 2015.

"The Marrero Ochsner Emergency Room is now fully managed, from an operational and administrative perspective by Ochsner," the New Orleans-based health system said in a statement Friday.

Ochsner partnered with Adeptus two years ago to run three offsite emergency rooms and while two of them have been built, only the Marrero ER has opened.

A second, located in Mid-City at the corner of Carrollton Ave and Canal Street in New Orleans, has prominently featured an "opening soon" sign for months, but has yet to open its doors. A third Ochsner ER is planned on the Northshore.

"...We are further analyzing the planned Mid-City and Mandeville locations to determine the best path forward in meeting the healthcare needs of those communities," Ochsner's statement reads. 

Offsite emergency rooms are the latest trend in healthcare in which freestanding facilities, not connected to a hospital, offer emergency room treatment outside of a traditional hospital setting. 

WWL-TV first detailed how offsite emergency rooms work and the concerns about them in a series of investigative reports in February. You can see the first of those reports here.

While the ERs offer increased access to emergency care in some parts of Louisiana where health care services are lacking, some in the New Orleans area are located less than a mile from hospital emergency rooms, leading critics to question whether the ERs are really designed to provide urgent care services at emergency room rates.

Adeptus Health is the largest operator of freestanding emergency rooms in the country with more than 90 facilities in at least five states. 

In February, Ochsner's CEO Warner Thomas hinted the company was considering pulling out of its partnership with Adeptus, after Adeptus was hit with a class-action lawsuit over fees it charged patients in Colorado and Texas.

"We're looking at how we can consolidate some of those services back into Ochsner. We're evaluating our relationship with them. It may change in the future. That's something that's currently in discussion," Thomas told WWL-TV in a one-on-one interview.

Friday, Ochsner Health System confirmed they were dissolving their partnership, re-leasing the emergency rooms from Adeptus, which built the facilities.

"As we evaluated our future freestanding emergency room strategy, we determined that all current and potential Ochsner free-standing emergency rooms would come fully under Ochsner management.  We began the process in February 2017 to transition operational control and effective April 1, 2017, we fully terminated our agreement with Adeptus Health," the statement reads.

The Ochsner ER in Marrero opened last fall, and a handful of people online were complaining about physician under-staffing that resulted in long wait times, exactly what the offsite ERs are marketed to combat.

Thomas said the company was working with Adeptus to fix the problem.

Last month, financial filings indicated the company was in desperate need of financial help, indicating a chapter 11 bankruptcy filing was likely.

This week, New York hedge fund Deerfield Management Company announced it had acquired a large portion of Adeptus' debt ahead of that company's anticipated bankruptcy.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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