Civil Service Commission OKs layoffs for 3,200

The state Civil Service Commission approved Wednesday the privatization of LSU hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe triggering the layoff of more than 3,200 state employees.

The commission voted 4-1 for the Jindal administration proposal under which the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana will take over management and operation of the hospitals effective Oct. 1. Two commissioners were absent.

The Shreveport and Monroe hospitals are the latest of LSU’s 10 facilities located around the state to be moved to private- sector management.

The Jindal administration push came as an effort to preserve quality health care for the poor while strengthening medical education programs in the wake of major financing problems.

“The safety net has been strained,” said John Dailey, LSU Health Sciences Center vice chancellor for administration. The deal provides a “viable financial model for today and for the future,” he said.

“There will be a $99.5 million operating cost savings because we won’t be managing those hospitals,” Dailey said.

More than 90 percent of the state employees whose jobs are being impacted are being rehired by the private operator when they reapply for the jobs, he said. The change impacts 2,611 employees at LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport and 651 at E.A. Conway Medical Center in Monroe.

He also said that some 600 employees have opted to retire.

The Civil Service Commission, which oversees state employee personnel practices, must approve contracts when state employee jobs are being displaced.

The commission must judge whether the contracts are being implemented for “economy and efficiency” rather than for political purposes.

Voting for the Shreveport and Monroe hospital privatization were Scott Hughes, of Shreveport; Lee Griffin, of Baton Rouge; David Duplantier, of Mandeville; and John McLure, of Alexandria. Voting against was the commission’s state employee-elected member Curtis “Pete” Fremin, of Morganza.

Leonal Hardman, a state employee union representative, testified against the privatization, alleging that “streamlining state government” is being done on the backs of state employees. He said he doubted the rehire numbers provided by Dailey.

Deals have previously been reached for the “outsourcing” of operations of eight hospitals and related clinics, including those in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Houma and Bogalusa.

The LSU Board of Supervisors has a ninth proposed cooperative endeavor agreement on its Friday agenda involving Huey P. Long Medical Center in Pineville.

The 10th hospital Lallie Kemp Medical Center in Independence is staying under LSU management for now.