Takeover to expand University Medical Center services

As soon as July, University Medical Center patients will have access to orthopedic services, and over the next year, an expansion of clinical services as Lafayette General Medical Center takes over operations of the public hospital, said LGMC’s President and Chief Executive Officer David Callecod.

Many of the clinical services that had been eliminated or reduced in the past year at the public hospital will be reopened after Lafayette General takes over, Callecod said.

The private hospital assumes management of UMC June 24. At that point, UMC will become University Hospital and Clinics as part of LGMC’s nearly $15.8 million annual lease agreement to take over operations of the public hospital and its clinics.

The public hospital currently trains 64 residents, and through LGMC’s partnership with LSU, the number of training spots will grow to 82, Callecod said.

“What is transformational for our community is that Lafayette General Medical Center will become a major teaching hospital on July 1,” he said. “As those new residents come to the community, that’s when we’ll add a lot of the capacity at these clinics.”

Private takeovers are also set June 24 for public hospitals in New Orleans, Houma and Lake Charles.

On Monday, the state Civil Service Commission approved a layoff plan for the four hospitals, impacting more than 3,500 employees, including 487 at UMC.

Employees were given the opportunity to apply for jobs with LGMC. As of Monday, of the 390 positions filled, 361 are current UMC employees, Callecod said.

Job interviews for open positions continue with the anticipation of hiring between 550 to 600 employees to staff the 66 inpatient bed facility within the next 12 months, Callecod said.

Currently, UMC operates four ICU beds, one or two operating rooms and has the ability to staff 32 inpatient beds. However, on Monday, it had 22 beds occupied by patients, Callecod said.

“The goal is to operate at 66 staffed beds, and we’re looking at other areas for possible expansion,” he said.

Options identified as community needs include the chemical dependency detox and long-term acute care services, Callecod said.

Due to budget cuts at UMC last year, some clinical services were reduced or eliminated. Callecod said over the next year, the public hospital’s administrative team, led by new University Hospital & Clinics CEO Jared Stark, will review services and set a plan for the revival or expansion of services.

One project that will get underway immediately is the hospital’s shift from paper to electronic medical records by January 2014, Callecod said.

A more immediate service available to patients will be a “full-blown” orthopedic clinic with inpatient and outpatient services that will open July 1, he said. Two resident positions in orthopedics will be created.

Prior orthopedic services at UMC had been “dramatically reduced” and surgeries were eliminated due to budget cuts, Callecod said.

More resident spots in general surgery and ear, nose and throat specialities will also be added this summer, he said.

Labor and delivery services and resident rotations that had been moved last year to Women’s & Children’s Hospital through a public-private partnership will move to Lafayette General, Callecod said.

When the private hospital takes over June 24, the new UMC will continue to be the community’s “safety net” hospital, providing “charity care” services to the uninsured and underinsured, Callecod said.

The lease agreement is for 10 years with one-year renewals kicking in after the end of the first five years.

“So, it’s always a five-year agreement after the first five years,” he said.

Callecod said he estimates a $12 million annual loss based on a projected $100 million in net revenues in the first year of operational costs.

The private hospital’s decision to partner with the state wasn’t a financial one, he said.

In December, the private hospital committed to working out a deal to take over UMC to prevent a further reduction of health services that could have reduced the public hospital to a 15-bed facility or worse — its closure, Callecod said.

“The threat of (UMC) closing was something we couldn’t accept,” Callecod said. “Even reducing the hospital to 15 beds would have been devastating to the community. We felt we had a moral obligation to step in and provide these services and greatly expand the medical education opportunities in Lafayette.”

Prior to mid-year budget cuts in 2012, UMC’s operational budget was about $109 million, said Glenn Craig, UMC’s interim administrator. Craig was hired by LGMC as chief operating officer of the new University Hospital and Clinics.

The hospital’s leadership team will also include current UMC administrators who retain their same duties: Dr. James Falterman, medical director and director of graduate medical education programs, and Laurence Vincent, director of nursing.

Craig said one of the few questions current staff has fielded from UMC patients is: “Are you going to stay open?”

“We will be open and we’ll be caring for our patients like we’ve always done,” Craig said. “I think for the patients it’s going to be a positive thing because we’re hoping to expand the services out here.”