ST. TAMMANY PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Hospitals across St. Tammany are seeing a sizable uptick in business since the closure of the heart hospital in Lacombe. They are also absorbing dozens of employees - but not everyone has been able to find a new job.
"We were surprised by the closure because it happened so quickly," said Lakeview Regional Hospital CEO Bret Kolman.
The once-full parking lot sits empty and the heart hospital signs are covered.
"They literally closed their emergency room in five days and discharged their last patient in 10 days," said Kolman.
But It's not like the North Shore didn't have any heart hospitals. Slidell Memorial opened it's $35 million cardiac wing two years ago. On the west side of the parish, both St. Tammany and Lakeview hospitals offer cardiac care.
"All of my business is now being done here," said Dr. Jay Silverstein. The cardiologist is one of 15 doctors who have now relocated to Lakeview Hospital. "It was abrupt. We had no warning. Our heads were spinning."
The heart hospital closed last month to the surprise of hundreds of employees, including Laneisha Brumfield, a working mother of 3.
"It's been really scary," she said.
The remaining three St. Tammany hospitals are seeing big increases in patients.
"Emergency room visits around 110 a day. We're way north of that now," said Sam Caruso Jr. with Slidell Memorial.
"All the hospitals in the area have been impacted by this. We've seen increased emergency room visits," said Kolman.
"When you lose a provider, the other providers have to absorb that patient need," said Melissa Hodgson with St. Tammany Regional
A lot of people hoped that someone would step up and purchase the heart hospital, and although there was interest, nothing ever materialized.
"Obviously of all the people that looked at the facility, nobody made a play for it, and it doesn't look like anybody's going to make a play for it now," said Caruso.
An estimated 700 people lost their jobs when the heart hospital closed, but many have been picked up
"We have hired 105 employees from Louisiana heart," said Caruso.
"Fifteen physicians and five nurse practitioners," said Kolman.
Laneisha Brumfield relocated with the heart doctor she worked with for years.
"Everything - it meant a lot to have a continuance of pay," she said. "Means a lot for my family."
Dozens of others haven't been as lucky and are now having to negotiate a new hospital landscape. All three of the hospitals FOX 8 spoke with today recently finished expansion projects. They expect more projects due to the increased demand.