LAFAYETTE — Lafayette General Medical Center announced Tuesday that it is working with consultants to hash out a partnership with University Medical Center in response to $22.4 million in cuts planned for the public hospital by Jan. 1.
Last week, the LSU Board of Supervisors approved $151 million in cuts, including nearly 1,500 layoffs, at seven of the state’s public hospitals.
At UMC, the cuts mean 173 employee layoffs and reducing beds from 48 to 10.
The cuts also will close several UMC outpatient services, including the sleep lab, speech pathology and occupational therapy.
After the cuts were announced Thursday, LSU system health care chief Frank Opelka said partnerships with private providers will be needed to help care for the poor and uninsured and with the loss of medical services and programs in the affected communities.
The cuts are expected to move up a November 2013 partnership agreement between LSU and Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge for the private hospital to take on Baton Rouge area patients and graduate medical education programs.
The Baton Rouge hospital is part of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, of which Lafayette’s Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center is a member.
“Lourdes would welcome a discussion on public/private partnerships with UMC, but we have not been approached,” said Elisabeth Arnold, Lourdes community relations director, in an email response.
In Lafayette on Tuesday, UMC interim hospital administrator Glenn Craig confirmed preliminary discussions are under way with Lafayette General.
“(Lafayette General) is working with consultants to help develop an operational analysis as well as to provide a structure for the graduate medical education program,” David Callecod, Lafayette General’s president and CEO, said in an email. “We are currently in talks, performing our due diligence to see what discussions need to happen next.”
The public hospital formed partnerships earlier this year with Lafayette General and Women’s & Children’s Hospital to ensure continuing care for pediatric and obstetrics patients after UMC faced $4.2 million in cuts in February.
The $4.2 million budget cut translated to an estimated 80 layoffs and closure of some clinics and other services, including labor and delivery and pediatric services. Lafayette General agreed to take on pediatric inpatients, though inpatient demand has been low and averages about two a week, said Daryl Cetnar, director of community relations for Lafayette General.
Women’s & Children’s Hospital now provides labor and delivery care to UMC patients. Since February, the partnership has enabled UMC family medicine physicians-in-training or residents to receive obstetrics training at the private hospital and there are no plans to alter the arrangement, Kathy Bobbs, CEO of The Regional Medical Center of Acadiana and Women’s & Children’s Hospital, said in an email Tuesday.
In regard to any new partnerships, Bobbs added, “We are willing to make ourselves available for discussion with LSU regarding a potential collaboration.”
Craig said the recently announced cuts must be made by Jan. 1, but the timeline for the closure of outpatient services could be moved up, depending on the public hospital’s discussions with private providers.
Craig said that so far only Lafayette General has signed a letter of intent with the hospital.
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to work with Lafayette General and explore something that could be mutually beneficial to both parties that will allow us to continue to provide care to patients and provide graduate medical education for physicians in this area,” Craig said.
The letter of intent “is a non-binding agreement that allows both parties to share confidential information in an attempt to establish a relationship that is mutually beneficial for both sides,” according to a statement released by Lafayette General on Tuesday.
“We are the only community-owned not-for-profit hospital in Lafayette,” Callecod said in the statement. “It is our duty to ensure that our community has proper access to quality care, that the current UMC campus remain open and viable, and that graduate medical education remain in Acadiana.”
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