MAY 2014

In This Issue:

Message From The CEO
ONLY Baton Rouge Hospital to Earn an "A"
BR Hospitals Stand Together
Mid City Fast Facts

New Program Serves Veterans, Service Members, First Responders

Trending Now - Viator Discusses Charity Care

A Message From The CEO

As Baton Rouge General’s new Chief Executive Officer, I am pleased and proud to be part of the Baton Rouge community, leading the area’s first and only full service community hospital. With a century-long reputation for excellence, our team is dedicated to continuing that legacy of leadership, quality, innovation, healing and hope, found at the heart of every caring moment. Their passion and commitment to what’s best for our patients shines through, and that will remain, regardless of the local, state and national landscape changes we face in the wake of healthcare reform.

I’d like to extend you an invitation to learn more about what’s happening at Baton Rouge General. Our Community, Our BRG is the first of a newsletter series that we hope you will find enlightening, and is aimed at highlighting vital services that our Mid City community depends upon, and the critical issues surrounding. As a healthcare organization characterized as an “anchor” and “stabilizing economic force,” we will not waver in our efforts to engage and collaborate with leaders, fellow providers and members of the community, to develop creative solutions to some of our city’s toughest issues like healthcare access and ER overutilization.

As your mission-driven community hospital and healthcare resource, we invite you to ask us your questions, and to learn more about the domino impact caregivers and patients are facing right here in your backyard.

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On behalf our 4,000 dedicated doctors, nurses and team members, we thank you for your leadership and dedication, and look forward to continuing as your collaborative partner in finding solutions that improve the lives of whom, together, we so proudly serve.


Mark Slyter
President and CEO

ONLY Baton Rouge Hospital to Earn an “A”

For the third year in a row, Baton Rouge General is the only hospital in Baton Rouge to earn an “A” for patient safety from the Leapfrog Group, an independent, non-profit employer-sponsored organization. Leapfrog’s 2014 Hospital Safety Scores rate hospitals across the nation on their overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable conditions, including infections, medication errors, acquired injuries such as bedsores, and other sources of harm, such as falls. Leapfrog’s patient safety panel, which includes physicians and experts from Harvard, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, UC – Davis, and Vanderbilt, reviewed more than 2,600 facilities on 28 national evidence-based performance measures for patient safety and gave a report card for each, with an A, B, C, D or F letter grade.

“At Baton Rouge General, the safety of our patients is paramount. From bedside to behind the scenes, our entire staff champions the highest standards for quality and patient safety. This score is testament to the culture of transparency, teamwork and excellence we are fostering” said Mark Slyter, President and CEO. “As healthcare providers, report cards keep us striving for perfection in patient care. They also help patients make informed decisions about their healthcare.” Learn more about the Leapfrog Group and its Hospital Safety Score at

BR Hospitals Stand Together

Thanks to Mayor-President Melvin R. “Kip” Holden and his Healthy BR initiative, all East Baton Rouge Parish hospitals are standing together in an ongoing commitment to communicate, collaborate and coordinate across the silos of local healthcare, to assess and plan around identified community health needs and barriers. Healthy BR’s subcommittee “Med BR,” composed of all local hospitals and healthcare providers, recently performed a Community Health Needs Assessment, identifying our city’s top 10 health priorities (page 13) as they relate to the overall health of our community. In the assessment, you will find compelling local and state health rankings and statistics, as well as geographic “hot spots” within East Baton Rouge identified as the areas of highest need (page 5-8), labeled by a “Community Need Index” score. 

Following the compilation of this 2012-2013 assessment, the mayor’s Med BR group prioritized and is continuing its work around 4 of the top 10 areas - Access and ER Overutilization; Obesity; Mental/Behavioral Health and HIV/AIDS. Baton Rouge is the first city, to our knowledge, to have a joint implementation plan for the 2015 cycle.

The multidisciplinary task forces come together to address these issues regularly – click here for highlights.

Mid City Fast Facts

  • The total economic impact of Baton Rouge General's Mid City Campus on the State of Louisiana is $290.3 million.
  • Mid City campus accounts for nearly 1 out of every 6 jobs in the Mid City region.
  • Baton Rouge General began the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance 12 years ago. This initiative has increased merchants in the area by over 150% and increased home ownership in the area to 40%.
  • Baton Rouge General trains 500 medical students, residents, fellows, nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, certified nurses anesthetists and radiation technologists each year.
  • The economic impact of physician residents upon graduation is more than $63 million and 252 full-time jobs annually.

Click here to read more about Mid City and our impact on the community.

New Program Serves Veterans, Service Members, First Responders

Baton Rouge General recently launched a program for veterans, first responders and active military service members. Responding to the community need for behavioral health support for these individuals, the program will focus on depression, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Symptoms related to these diagnoses are often so severe that they can affect overall health as well as relationships, sleep, finances and employment.

“Members of the military, veterans and other first responders experience tremendous emotional and psychological stresses in their daily lives,” said Medical Director Dr. Navin Patel. “With this new program, our goal is to help address the unique behavioral health needs of active military service members, veterans who have returned to civilian life and other first responders, including police, EMS and firefighters.”

“As a community hospital, Baton Rouge General expresses heartfelt gratitude to our service members, veterans and first responders for their sacrifices. Through this new program, we are honored to support the well-being of the men and women who give the utmost to serve our country and strengthen our communities,” said President and CEO Mark F. Slyter.


Douglas’ Story
Douglas B. was 48 years old when the memories started coming back. He was watching television and saw a news report about a group of rebels who had taken over a school and killed dozens of children. Their bodies lay in long rows on the ground and blankets had been thrown over them. The image was awful … and nearly identical to one that Douglas had seen before (in real life) during his years in the military. This one image flashing on his television screen had the power to release a flood of memories that had been locked away in Douglas’ mind and now could not be stopped.

“Imagine a little movie camera placed right here,” Douglas says, pointing to his forehead right above his eye. “Imagine that it’s just playing hundreds of scenes and pictures and memories … and you can’t shut it off no matter how you try.”

That’s what it was like for Douglas, who spent the next several months unable to sleep or concentrate or think of anything else but the memories of his 12 years as a soldier, a career that began when Douglas was just 17 years old. Until now, he had never realized just how deeply his military experience had not just affected --- but shaped --- his life.

Douglas was in military training just as the Vietnam War ended, but his military experience was just beginning. For the next decade, he participated in what were known as the Reagan “shadow wars” --- conflicts in which American soldiers were sent all over the world (El Salvador, the Philippines, Africa) to train local troops when their countries were threatened by communism.

“It may not have technically been a war, but the environment was the same,” he said. “We were soldiers. We saw things no one should ever have to see. We were targets and we had to do what was necessary to survive.”

After the memories started, Douglas thought back on his life and was able to connect the dots. A divorce, a drinking problem, angry outbursts … a lifetime of being emotionally unavailable to the most important people in his life. Clearly, even though he had raised a family and had always had a good job, he had been suffering from depression and anxiety, even substance abuse, all along. But there was more … and he understood it completely one day in 2003 when he found himself alone, working in his back yard.

“I lived on a large piece of wooded property and I was outdoors clearing some trails. All of a sudden, I heard a rustling noise in the leaves and saw something move. Looking back, I realize it was probably just a snake, but I reacted as though I had gone back in time. In my mind, I had a rifle in my hands. I started searching the woods. I could smell the jungle … in my mind, that’s where I was.”

The feeling lasted several minutes and it scared Douglas. He was clearly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. “Eventually, I started thinking (and fearing) that I might hurt someone ...”

And because he didn’t know how to handle the thoughts and feelings that had taken over him, Douglas decided that he didn’t want to go on living. “I had literally made up my mind to commit suicide,” he said. Fortunately, his wife called for help before anything happened, and Douglas was taken to a hospital where he began receiving the treatment that saved his life.

“I had done what a lot of people do,” he said. “I had taken all my memories and locked them up behind this big door, hoping they would go away or disappear. But that doesn’t happen. You can’t forget memories like that. They are a part of you. I worked with a therapist who helped me sort through each memory, talk about them and then file them away in the proper place. You have to learn how to cope so you can go on living.”

Douglas has agreed to lead a peer-to-peer support group at Baton Rouge General’s new military wellness program. He believes when patients learn about his background, they will be more willing to open up about their own problems.

“I know what they are going through. I lived it myself,” he said. “I want to tell others not to do what I did … not to try to numb the pain or lock away your memories, or close yourself off from others. Seeking help is so important. It may be painful, but having others around you who really understand … makes it easier.”

Trending Now

Dionne Viator, Vice President & Chief Network and Strategy Officer
Baton Rouge General Medical Center

Viator Discusses Charity Care in Baton Rouge on WRKF