LSU hospital exec leaving; cites state concerns

Former LSU health care administrator Dr. Roxane Townsend has landed a top job at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Ark.

Townsend on Thursday cited concerns over the direction of health care delivery in the state under Gov. Bobby Jindal as having played a part in her decision to leave.

She said she will become University of Arkansas Medical Sciences vice chancellor of clinical affairs and chief executive officer of its 434-bed medical center and teaching hospital effective Feb. 1.

“It’s going to be a wonderful opportunity,” Townsend said. “It will be hard to leave Louisiana. It’s been home for me almost 30 years. But this will be a new chapter in my life.”

Townsend had been the LSU system’s assistant vice president for health systems until September, when she was ousted during a shake-up in leadership in the system’s hospital and medical education division.

The shake-up came as the LSU Board of Supervisors, most of whose members were chosen by Gov. Bobby Jindal, decided to turn more of the traditional patient care and medical education delivered in LSU hospitals to the private sector.

Townsend had worked closely with LSU system Vice President Dr. Fred Cerise, who also was replaced after suggesting the administration was moving too quickly in its privatization tact.

Under terms of her contract, Townsend still had a job with LSU after she lost the executive post.

She could have stayed on at the Health Sciences Center in New Orleans or in another job in the LSU System until Jan. 7, 2016, at a salary of $285,000 a year.

Townsend said she decided it was best for her to leave LSU.

“I worry what the future of health care will be in Louisiana. I cannot be effective here,” Townsend said. “I’m not sure what they are doing is going to be best for the state.”

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences operates the only medical school and only academic medical center and Level 1 trauma center in the state.

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has colleges of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, health professions and public health, a graduate school, a hospital and a statewide network of regional centers.

It has more than 2,800 students and 790 residents or physicians in training.

Townsend succeeds Richard Pierson who is retiring in December.