No outpatient clinic deal yet

No deal is in place for a private takeover of the LSU-operated outpatient women’s clinic with a Monday layoff of state employees who work there looming.

The lack of an agreement jeopardizes obstetrics and gynecological care for uninsured women in the area delivered through the clinic.

State Sen. Sharon Broome, D-Baton Rouge, and state Rep. Regina Barrow on Monday criticized LSU and state officials and suggested that the situation could exacerbate the “gap” in health care for women with the closure of LSU Earl K. Long Medical Center.

“I am very concerned,” Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, said. “I am extremely frustrated. They have lied to us. They said it was worked out.”

“I’m concerned what happens about the women, all the lack of responsiveness, the lack of specific plans,” Broome said. “We are running out of time, and that’s an understatement.”

LSU system Vice President Frank Opelka referred calls to state Department of Health and Hospitals officials.

Christina Stephens, a DHH spokeswoman, said discussions are ongoing but an agreement has not been finalized with Woman’s Hospital.

“The operations of the outpatient women’s clinic will be included in a separate Cooperative Endeavor Agreement among LSU, DHH and Woman’s Hospital,” Stephens said. “This CEA is being worked on right now and will be finalized in the coming days.”

Later, Stephens said, “We are confident that it will be signed and in place before April 15.”

Stephens said there is a “verbal agreement” among the parties to ensure that clinic services are still being offered.

Amiee Goforth, a Woman’s Hospital spokeswoman, referred questions regarding the agreement to LSU and DHH.

Woman’s agreed to take over OB-GYN services in April 2012 — nearly 18 months ahead of the original late 2013 closure of the Earl K. Long facility. LSU then pushed up the closure to April 15.

The facility is also home to OB-GYN graduate medical education programs.

The hospital was notified in late October that the source of funding for non-emergency surgeries was being redirected.

The funding problem has led to a hold on elective surgeries since that time pending negotiations with state officials. That, too, is unresolved. Some of the elective surgeries involved cancer patients.

LSU’s agreement with Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center to take over the LSU Earl K. Long inpatient and medical education programs did not include obstetrics and gynecological care.

LSU moved the outpatient women’s clinic to a physicians’ office building on the Woman’s Hospital campus off Airline Highway near Pecue Lane at 500 Rue de la Vie in mid-September to be closer to the hospital for patients and physicians.

LSU physicians and employees run the clinic. Those employees lose their jobs Monday and there’s no one to take their place.

“Some women are not going to get services in time,” Barrow said.

Barrow said there have been a series of failures in what was supposed to be iron-clad contracts for women’s health care.

“All they had was a gentleman’s, gentlewoman’s agreement (with Woman’s), which we know has not been upheld,” Barrow said,

Barrow noted the first glitch was the lack of funds for some women in need of surgery brought to light earlier this year.

“The gap in services for women is horrible,” she said.

LSU, the state and the Lake just recently finalized an amendment to a cooperative endeavor agreement through which the Lake takes over operation of all LSU outpatient clinics located around Baton Rouge except the women’s clinic.

LSU had planned to continue to operate the clinics but the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rejected the proposed alignment of the clinics with its hospital in Lafayette. That necessitated the agreement with the Lake and now Woman’s.