Rural Hospital Trying to Treat Thousands on Six ER Beds

WINNSBORO -- For many, the Franklin Medical Center is the only hospital to turn to.
FMC officials said there's folks in Tensas and Catahoula Parishes which have no hospitals.

"When they're at their most vulnerable, that's when they're coming in, so we have to make sure it's the absolute best environment for patient care," said FMC Administrator Blake Kramer.

Lately, providing that environment has become harder.

It's a numbers problem. 

The number of Emergency Room beds at FMC can be counted on just two hands.

That puts a strain on an ER that sees 10,000 patients every year.

"If somebody shows up to the emergency department and they see a lot of cars out here and a lot of people in the waiting room, a lot of times they'll turn around," said FMC Emergency Dept. Medical Director, Dr. Gary Baskin. "Sometimes, they are the ones who need to be seen."

"The fact that you don't have an extra room ready. The fact that one patient needed a little extra care and now, because of that, you don't have an extra room ready. Those things add up quickly," echoed Dr. Logan Atkins, an FMC Medical Resident.

Folks in Winnsboro stepped up in October 2013, voting for a hospital mill tax.

Kramer said it's the first local tax subsidy they've ever received.

"13 mil tax for 25 years," he said.

Hospital officials said that money will expand the emergency room from six beds to 10 beds with separate rooms for psychiatric care and more patient visibility.

But the tax funds don't kick in until January 2015, so the hospital is looking for other financing options to begin sooner.

"A bond issue of some kind that would, of course, be backed by the tax funds. That would, of course, involve getting approval from the State Bond Commission, approval from the local police jury," Kramer said.

When it comes to serving patients, hospital officials said they need the bigger ER sooner rather than later.

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