LSU seeks place to treat prisoners
LSU received no response as it sought proposals from area hospitals to take over prisoner health care currently being delivered at its Earl K. Long Medical Center in Baton Rouge.
That leaves LSU officials still searching for a way to provide in-patient hospital and emergency services prior to the late 2013 closure of LSU Earl K. Long Medical Center, called EKL, on Airline Highway in north Baton Rouge.
LSU is moving its medical education and in-patient hospital services to the Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center campus, known as the Lake in south Baton Rouge. Prisoner care is not part of the cooperative endeavor agreement between LSU and the Lake.
“We will figure out something before we pull the trigger on the move,” LSU System Vice President Fred Cerise said Friday.
Cerise, who oversees medical education and hospitals, said a meeting is planned for next week with state Department of Corrections officials as the next move is contemplated.
Potential next steps include negotiating with a particular hospital or contracting with a private company “that does this kind of work and let them negotiate with the hospitals,” Cerise said. “We know there are companies out there that do that and that may be interested.”
Cerise said some prisoner care needs could be handled at a medical unit at a state prison at St. Gabriel.
According to LSU statistics, seven inmates a day on average are treated at EKL. About 80 percent of them come from state prisons, juvenile and forensic facilities. The remaining in-patients are prisoners in parish jails in the eight-parish area.
By law, the LSU hospitals and clinics are required to serve inmates housed in either state or local correctional facilities. The state also appropriates funds for prisoner care.
LSU officials were a little surprised that no hospital responded to a request for proposals sought in early June. Besides posting the proposal request, LSU sent copies to hospitals in the Baton Rouge region.
Only those hospitals whose representatives showed up for a mandatory bidders conference could submit a proposal and none showed up, said Pat O’Connor, director of research and development for LSU’s Health Care Services Division.
So, the request for proposals was withdrawn, O’Connor said.
Cerise said some hospitals were interested when the request for proposals was in development “but for whatever reason they changed their mind.”
LSU required that the hospitals submitting proposals were able to provide a secure detention ward. Prison officials would continue to provide guards. The hospitals also had to identify services that they could offer and any major services they could not and specify by name and specialty the hospital’s network of physicians and other providers.
LSU did receive some interest in a separate request for proposals for a third-party administrator that would be responsible for paying claims.
But without a contract hospital there was no need for the administration contract.
How to handle prisoner care is one of three key issues that need to be resolved as LSU and the Lake entered into a public-private partnership. The other issues involved provision of women’s health care services and funding of out-patient medical clinics that are run under the auspices of EKL.
The LSU-Lake agreement does not cover prisoner care nor obstetrics and gynecology services.
LSU has an agreement with Womans’ Hospital for OB-GYN services such as baby delivery.
The state health agency is trying to get U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services approval to run the LSU clinics through the University Medical Center in Lafayette.