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Baton Rouge General’s Regional Burn Center Celebrates 50th Anniversary

  • Category: News, Burn
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  • Written By: Baton Rouge General

Renovations coming, clinical trials keep Burn Center on cutting edge of burn care

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Baton Rouge General’s Regional Burn Center, the first and only verified burn center in the region, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Each year, it treats more than 4,000 patients from all over the state.

This year marks big changes for BRG’s Regional Burn Center: a renovation including state-of-the-art inpatient suites and more beds, a rooftop therapy garden offering burn survivors a safe and comfortable way to ease back into the world around them, and a pediatric playroom. A newly renovated outpatient rehab gym and treatment center will give burn patients the space they need to continue their recovery after discharge. Renovations are scheduled to be complete in the fall.

“Burn care is incredibly complex, beginning at the time of injury and lasting through treatment, recovery and even ongoing survivorship with support groups and a summer camp for children,” said Dr. Tracee Short, Medical Director of BRG’s Regional Burn Center.

doctors and patient

In November 2012, a devastating oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in three fatalities and several injuries. BRG’s Regional Burn Center cared for four of the injured construction workers for over a month, helping them to get back home to the Philippines for the holidays. Sen. David Heitmeier visited the workers before their release.

Pediatric burn survivors Camp Catahoula

Pediatric burn survivors at Baton Rouge General’s Camp Catahoula in July.

On the cutting edge of burn care and clinical research, BRG was one of 10 centers nationwide to participate in a trial study last year of StrataGraft, a sheet of living skin designed to replace a patient’s skin if injured. The youngest application of StrataGraft was performed at BRG, on a 12-week-old. The regenerative skin tissue changes the way burns are managed, while also minimizing the pain and recovery for burn patients. An expanded access study of StrataGraft is in the works at BRG, where the team will be able to use the skin tissue on deeper wounds.

BRG is also one of two sites nationwide participating in a clinical trial of PluroGel®, a gel-based dressing that helps remove dead tissue. The trial will evaluate its wound healing capabilities in burn patients as well as the pain perception of patients during the removal and application of the dressing. BRG was one of the first in the country to evaluate Kerecis, a fish-skin product that heals human tissue damage such as burn wounds, and also uses the latest in technology, like ReCell, a spray-on skin treatment.

As Baton Rouge was emerging as an industrial hub, so was the need for specialized burn care, and on July 14, 1970, the Regional Burn Center opened its doors, only the 14th in the country to do so. Since then, its team has cared for pediatric and adult burn patients, treating nearly 90 percent of all burns in the Baton Rouge region each year as well as patients from almost 200 zip codes between Florida and Texas. The Burn Center team includes 42 members of all different specialties, including nutrition, surgery, rehab, psychiatrists, ENTs and social workers.

In 2015, the Regional Burn Center earned the designation as Louisiana’s only verified burn center and the only verified center between Florida and Texas. Verification is a rigorous process that only 68 burn centers across the nation have achieved and demonstrates that BRG provides the highest quality care of burns from time of injury through rehabilitation.

“Our frontline staff shows such dedication in providing not only the highest quality care but the compassion to make patients and their families feel secure,” Dr. Short added.

As the Region 2 designated HazMat response hospital, BRG’s Regional Burn Center is critical to Louisiana’s petrochemical, manufacturing, and oil and gas industries, which currently employ nearly 300,000 workers across the state. But, in addition to the hundreds of patients injured in industrial accidents each year, the Regional Burn Center treats thousands of patients injured in other household accidents.

“While the majority of our patients adults, about 800 children are burned and treated at BRG each year, typically from household accidents involving food or appliances,” said Dr. Short. “And some of them are in the hospital a long time – 45 days is not unheard of.”

building exterior

Rooftop garden. Rendering courtesy of Baton Rouge General

For its pediatric burn survivors, BRG created Camp Catahoula, a week-long camp provides some summer fun -- swimming, fishing and games – all while sharing their experiences with other burn survivors. Camp Catahoula is staffed by volunteers from Baton Rouge General -- doctors, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, social workers, and even a chef.

“It is rewarding to see the campers’ excitement as they interact with other children recovering from burn injuries,” said Dr. Short. “To feel supported and comfortable around other burn survivors who have faced the same trauma and who carry similar scars truly aids in their emotional healing.”

For more information, visit or call (225) 387-7717.

About Baton Rouge General Medical Center
Baton Rouge General Medical Center is the area’s first community hospital with 588 licensed beds between two campuses. Baton Rouge General opened its doors in 1900, and has provided the Greater Baton Rouge community with high-quality healthcare for generations. An accredited teaching hospital since 1991, Baton Rouge General serves as an affiliate of Tulane University School of Medicine, and offers other medical education programs, including a School of Nursing, School of Radiologic Technology, Family Medicine Residency Program, Internal Medicine Residency Program, and Sports Medicine Fellowship Program. For more information, visit, find us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter at @BRGeneral.