Cerise finds new job in Texas

Former LSU System Vice President Fred Cerise accepted the job Monday of chief executive officer of Dallas’ Parkland Memorial Hospital.

Parkland is a mammoth public county hospital that serves the poor and is closely tied to Texas’ medical education programs.

“I never looked outside the state because I think there’s a lot of stuff to do here, but it’s been frustrating,” Cerise said. “The time was right so yes, I’m going to do it.”

Cerise headed LSU’s charity hospital system, with 10 hospitals and related clinics, before its dismantling by the Jindal administration and private takeovers.

The Jindal administration replaced him with Dr. Frank Opelka in August 2012, when Cerise balked at installing the privatization plan. Opelka ordered hospital officials to explore ways to transfer medical care to private hospitals that would serve as bases for LSU medical education programs.

Cerise, an internal medicine physician, is associate dean for clinical affairs at LSU Health Science Center’s School of Medicine in New Orleans.

A former state health secretary, Cerise has been an outspoken supporter of Medicaid expansion, which would provide government health insurance to Louisiana’s working poor. Gov. Bobby Jindal has rejected the expansion.

“I like the fact that, aside from a CEO, he has been an outspoken advocate for public health care and its importance to communities,” said Debbie D. Branson, of the Parkland Board of Managers. “I want him to bring that passion to Parkland and I am convinced he will.”

Cerise called the Parkland job “a nice opportunity.”

“It’s a big public safety net place. It has a good history to it,” Cerise said. “They have a lot of public support instead of debating whether they should exist or not.”

Parkland is the hospital where President John Kennedy was taken after he was fatally shot by an assassin on Nov. 22, 1963.

In the LSU System position, Cerise oversaw LSU’s 10 charity hospitals as well as medical education programs that were closely aligned.

Cerise’s contract has not been finalized.

Cerise said he does not know when he will assume the Dallas job. “I have some things to finish up here,” he said.

Parkland has been without a permanent chief executive officer since December 2011. A new Parkland hospital is under construction.

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, Cerise received his medical degree at the LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans.

He did his residency at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. He has a master’s of public health from Harvard University School of Public Health in Boston.

Cerise was one of three finalists for the Parkland job. He had traveled to the campus for interviews last month. He said Parkland officials approached him.