By Marsha Shuler
Capitol news bureau
September 07, 2012
Another top-level LSU health care executive said Wednesday that she was replaced, as a shake-up continues in the leadership of the system’s hospital and medical education division.
But the health care division’s new chief said Assistant Vice President for Health Systems Roxane Townsend left on her own.
The job action involving Townsend occurred not quite two weeks after her former boss, Fred Cerise, lost his job as LSU System vice president for health affairs and medical education.
Townsend said Cerise’s replacement, Frank Opelka, asked her to meet with him and then advised her that he was appointing other people to fill in jobs that she held overseeing LSU’s south Louisiana public hospitals as well as acting chief of both the LSU Earl K. Long Medical Center in Baton Rouge and the “interim” LSU Public Hospital in New Orleans.
“Dr. Opelka is interested in restructuring and I completely understand. He needs to assemble a team he can trust, the Governor’s Office and the (LSU) board can trust,” Townsend said.
But Opelka said Townsend came to him to discuss her status.
“She thought given all the current challenges we face and how the landscape is changing she wanted to take a break,” Opelka said. “I did not ask her to do it. She came to me.”
Opelka called Townsend “a tremendous resource.”
Opelka has been vice chancellor for clinical affairs at the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. He now holds the title of LSU System executive vice president for health care and medical education redesign.
The health care leadership changes come as Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration imposed major cuts across LSU’s 10-hospital system after a reduction in federal support and directed officials to move toward more privatization opportunities.
Cerise had warned that a revamp such as the one Jindal and the governor-controlled LSU Board of Supervisors pushed could not happen overnight and there would be patient and medical education consequences without proper due diligence.
Townsend and Cerise have worked together since both were physicians at LSU’s Earl K. Long Medical Center on Airline Highway in north Baton Rouge. Each became an administrator at the facility. She was a trusted confidante and top aide to Cerise when he served as secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals and later when he moved into the LSU System job.
Cerise appointed Townsend as interim chief executive officer of the LSU Health Care Services Division as well as chief executive officer of the interim LSU Public Hospital in New Orleans.
HCSD oversees the seven LSU hospitals in south Louisiana.
Opelka told key executive staff members on Tuesday that HCSD medical director Michael Kaiser would replace Townsend as interim chief executive officer while remaining in the medical position. In addition, Kim Sangari will become CEO of the Earl K. Long facility, and the interim LSU Public Hospital medical director Juzar Ali will take over as the New Orleans facility’s acting chief executive officer.
Townsend said Opelka is “assembling his team.”
“I’m still with LSU. I have a contract through January 2016. That contract calls for me to continue to work for LSU,” Townsend said. “I plan to honor my contract and work with LSU where I can be positioned to do something meaningful.”
Townsend is on the LSU medical school faculty as an assistant professor of clinical medicine.