Pointe Coupee jury rescinds resolution to expand hospital board

The Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury rescinded a resolution Tuesday that it adopted earlier this month that urged state legislators to increase the number of representatives that sit on the parish’s Board of Commissioners for Health Services District No. 1.

The jury had adopted the resolution Feb. 11 at the urging of Juror Albert Dukes, who hoped to increase the nine-member board to 12 representatives — giving each member of the Police Jury one appointee to represent his district.

But at Tuesday’s meeting, Jurors Kurt Jarreau and Janet Vosburg asked the Police Jury to reconsider its position on the matter, which it did with a 10-2 vote to rescind the resolution. Jurors Dukes and Russell Young voted against repealing the resolution.

In a prepared statement Vosburg read to the jury during its regular meeting Tuesday night, she said many local doctors were opposed to the change. Vosburg also praised the board members, who serve on a voluntary basis, for turning around the parish’s hospital system, which had been operating in the red under the Police Jury’s oversight.

“They have, through the years, performed in an extremely competent manner,” she said. “Why do we have to change it?”

Jarreau said expanding to a 12-member model would make the hospital board too political.

“Politics have been taken out,” he said. “If we’re here to each appoint a person onto this board, its going back to what you had before. When the Police Jury was running the hospital it basically ran it into the ground. I want it run like a business. Take the politics out of it.”

In a letter dated Feb. 25, Dukes told the hospital board and several doctors in the parish he wants to increase the board’s size because it lacked minority representation, especially in districts with large concentration of black residents.

Dukes’ letter also asserts that certain jurors have oversaturated representation on the hospital board because multiple board members live in the same district.

“To continue with the nine-member district would be agreeing to continue abuse and discrimination,” Dukes wrote.

Dukes reiterated his points Tuesday night by adding, “No representation for blacks at all within the city of New Roads? There is something terribly wrong there. The (hospital) system is not working for black people, and some white people who don’t have representation in their districts.”

Vosburg retorted the board always had black representatives since it was formed, but acknowledged the parish should strive for more black representatives with future appointments.

But she also said, “The people on this board work toward one goal: the betterment of healthcare for the parish not just separate districts.”