LSU board approves privatization for four more charity hospitals

The LSU Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved the private takeover of four more LSU hospitals with key financial and other details missing from the agreements.

The action prompted a Louisiana House attempt to insert the Legislature in the final approval process given the LSU board’s sign-off on what state Rep. Katrina Jackson called “incomplete contracts.”

Jackson failed in a try to amend legislation dealing with “transparency” for Jindal administration health care programs to include the requirements of the contract.

The LSU board action involved LSU hospitals in Houma, Lake Charles, Shreveport and Monroe. Shreveport is home base to one of LSU’s two medical schools.

North Louisiana legislators who have opposed privatization efforts and patient advocates asked the board to delay action on the hospital agreements in north Louisiana noting that key details are missing.

“I’ve never seen a state board approve a contract that’s incomplete,” said Jackson, D-Monroe.

About 50 pages of the Shreveport-Monroe hospital agreement were blank.

“Look at what you are doing, and not do it on the fly,” said state Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport.

The Rev. Deacon Bette Kauffman, of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana, complained about “a lack of transparency and accountability” from those putting forth the deals.

The documents before the LSU Board for all the four hospital deals had blanks where financial terms were missing and additions were noted but the attachments were blank pages. In the case of the Shreveport-Monroe agreement, a series of documents are yet to be “confected,” according a presentation made to the board.

After the meeting, LSU Board Chairman Hank Danos said the board gave authority to LSU President William Jenkins to sign documents completing the deals “substantially in the form presented.”

“We have had some assurances that it’s doable,” Danos said. “We care tremendously about the specifics. But we also trust Dr. Jenkins.”

Danos noted that the state Division of Administration and the state Department of Health and Hospitals also have to agree that “this is the best possible deal.”

The deals affecting operations of the four hospitals bring to seven the number of LSU hospital agreements approved by the LSU board.

Previously, the LSU board signed off on agreements involving hospital operations in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette.

Binding documents sealing the private takeover of the University Medical Center in Lafayette by Lafayette General Medical Center were signed last week.

Lafayette General officials announced a series of community forums for the public to ask questions prior to its June 24 takeover.

The forums will be at the Clifton Chenier Center auditorium at 6 p.m. June 19 and at UMC’s Voorhies Auditorium at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. June 21.

Two other agreements are in the works affecting LSU hospitals in Pineville and Bogalusa.

The Pineville deal was on the board agenda Tuesday, but action on it was deferred until the board’s June 7 meeting.

LSU’s Lallie Kemp Medical Center in Independence is the only LSU hospital that would remain under public operation.

The Jindal administration is pushing to finalize most of the deals by the June 30 end of the fiscal year although some takeovers would not happen until the new fiscal year.

Most of the discussion occurred over the Shreveport and Monroe hospital deal under which the nonprofit Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana would assume operation of the facilities.

Foundation chairman Stephen Skrivanos gave a general overview of plans and presented a list of “additional documents to be confected,” including a master hospital lease, equipment lease, master affiliation agreement, and master collaboration agreement.

The board also approved the following agreements:

Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center in Houma would be taken over by Terrebonne General Medical Center and Southern Regional Medical Center. Unlike other agreements, the hospital will not be leased by the private entity. But the private entity will pay $3.3 million to purchase certain services.

W.O. Moss Medical Center in Lake Charles will cease operating as a hospital with Lake Charles Memorial Hospital taking over in-patient care and medical education. The hospital will offer outpatient services until a new state-of-the-art clinical facility is built on the Moss site by the private hospital.