Official: Med school faces deficit

LSU’s Medical School in Shreveport is in financial trouble because of Jindal administration budget cuts, the LSU Health Sciences Center’s vice chancelor said Monday.

LSU’s Hugh Mighty, speaking to a Senate committee, said hospital funding that helps support the school is running short to the tune of $42 million.

State Sen. Greg Tarver, D-Shreveport, asked Mighty for clarification. “If we do not get $42 million required to run the school, ... we will have to close the school?” Tarver asked.

“Without some change, that would be correct, sir,” Mighty replied.

Mighty appeared before the Senate Finance Committee, which is conducting hearings on the nearly $25 billion proposed state spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Mighty said between $22 million and $32 million has gone to fund the school from hospital operations in past years.

But there’s been a major drop-off in funding for the hospital, and even if there’s restoration to take care of hospital needs “we still would not be able to reach the school as far as its deficit,” he said.

The situation could have an impact on discussions involving private operation of the hospital, Mighty said.

“How long has the school been subsidized by the hospital?” asked state Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma.

Mighty said he believes the arrangement has existed since the medical school’s inception.

State Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte, asked if students should be worried about applying to the medical school with the current finances.

“No, sir. I believe we are going to find a solution — all of us,” Mighty said.

Dr. Robert Barish, chancellor of the LSU Health Science Center in Shreveport, said there would be a medical school there next year. His daughter plans to go there, he said.

“We must find a solution,” Barish said.

Jindal administration officials who attended the hearing did not address the issue.