University Hospital restoring services

Since Lafayette General Health took over operations of the former University Medical Center six months ago, once-shuttered patient services are being restored and more changes are in the works for 2014.

Lafayette General Health took over operations of the public hospital in June as part of a $15.8 million lease agreement with LSU. The facility was renamed University Hospital & Clinics.

Plans to improve the hospital and restore services that were previously eliminated or reduced by state budget cuts are on track at the privately managed facility, said Jared Stark, CEO of University Hospital & Clinics.

“There’s certainly been a lot of positives that I think Lafayette General has brought to the hospital and community in the management agreement,” he said.

The former UMC’s orthopedics clinic, where services had been drastically reduced, was restored to full-time status within a few weeks of coming under private management.

“The orthopedic clinic was seeing patients one day a month and now, it’s full time, so that’s amazing the volume of patients that we’re reaching,”said Daryl Cetnar, Lafayette General community relations director.

“In addition to seeing those orthopedic patients, we are also operating on them at UHC,” Cetnar said. “Prior to the transition, there were very few orthopedic surgeries (at UMC). Most patients were referred to other charity facilities across the state for orthopedic surgery.”

The hospital also reopened its pediatric clinic in early December, earlier than anticipated due to preparations by staff and clinic physicians, Stark said.

The clinic had been closed since June 2012 due to state budget cuts.

Soon, the hospital plans to reopen its medical detox unit, Stark said. The hospital’s detox unit was closed in February 2012 as part of another round of budget cuts.

“We’ll reopen that service in the next couple of weeks. It’s a service that’s not really offered anywhere else,” Stark said.

One major project underway at the facility is a conversion to electronic medical records, which Stark said officials are on track to have implemented in the spring.

Between June 24, the date of Lafayette General’s management takeover, and Nov. 30, UHC clinics have received more than 42,000 patient visits, according to statistics released by Cetnar.

Its emergency department had 16,613 patient visits in the same time period.

Stark said a long-planned expansion of the emergency department should gain traction in the coming year.

The emergency department project found a spot on the state’s capital outlay list a few years ago and about $3 million was committed to the project in 2011.

Other changes enacted in the past few months at the hospital included adding eight more inpatient beds, opening a third operating room and enhancing cardiology and oncology clinic services.

The public-private partnership at the former UMC also allowed the expansion of medical training in Lafayette with LSU medical residents now receiving experience at Lafayette General Medical Center and the public hospital.

At least 22 new doctors started training at Lafayette General in July. Lafayette General invested about $2 million in contracts with private physicians to make additional training spots available to new doctors.