Baton Rouge Medical District plans include clinical trial network, medical school / The Times Picayune

Nine months into the planning, the proposed Baton Rouge medical district planners say they’ve defined the key parts of the project, including the possibility of joining forces with an already-proposed clinical trials network and building a medical school campus.

At Prospect Baton Rouge’s second-annual reverse canvas, John Spain, executive vice president of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, outlined four key initiatives the proposed medical district would cover: an expanded four-year medical school, a clinical trials network, diabetes research center with obesity care and a post-acute care facility.

The proposed medical district, which was identified as one of FuturEBR’s growth areas, would be near Essen Lane and Bluebonnet Boulevard and would mirror others in peer cities like the Memphis Medical Center or the Texas Medical Center in Houston. BRAF contracted Perkins+Will consulting firm to suggest plans on developing the proposed medical corridor.

Spain proposes a medical school attracting top students to the area, with a curriculum would include joint-degree programs.

“It’s time for a third full-blown medical school here,” Spain said. “…not just a four-year medical school we’re talking about here. It’s so much more.”

Last year, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Blue Cross Blue Shield and area hospitals began exploring the possibility of creating a local clinical trials network to raise Baton Rouge’s healthcare research profile.

BRAC noted criteria for clinical trials are often so specific that they only apply to a small portion of the population, and hospitals don’t have enough patients to participate. A Baton Rouge area clinical trial network would be able to submit for clinical trials as one entity, combining all patients and researchers from all hospitals.

“The chamber approached us,” John Spain said about the BRAC exploring the possibility of making its own project part of the proposed medical district. Spain estimates it could lead to about $3.6 million in the fifth year of the project.

The proposed medical district would also include a diabetes and obesity center. Spain said consultants estimate an all-encompassing facility could save Baton Rouge residents about $30 million annually in health care costs. That’s compared to the nearly $1.5 billion cost of obesity in Baton Rouge, Spain said.

A post-acute care facility would track post-operational progress for patients, including following up on doctor’s visits, rehabilitation, medications and other processes, Spain said.

The following local health care institutions have signed on to be involved: Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, General Health Systems, Our Lady of the Lake College, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge Clinic, Woman’s Hospital, Ochsner Medical Center, The Neuromedical Center, LSU Health Sciences Center and Tulane University.

The players involved now have a basic blueprint, so they’ve turned their focus to creating costs analyses, business plans and implementation plans. Spain said he’d expect them to be completed sometime during the middle of the summer, with some of the projects to roll out during the next 3-5 years. The entire project, however, could take between 10-15 years.

For more information about the proposed health district, visit

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