North La. Safety-Net Hospitals Get New Management

Sep 25, 2018

Credit Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News

LSU-HSC/OCHSNER DEAL -   A new company jointly controlled by Louisiana State University and Ochsner Health System  will  take control of the state-owned / safety net  hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe on Oct. 1st.   That’s the deal that was officially announced yesterday by Governor John Bel Edwards.    Speaking before a packed auditorium at LSU-Health Sciences Center in Shreveport,  Edwards  stressed  that  the  arrangement  is  an  equitable  package deal.

Edwards said, “This is a true 50-50 partnership where LSU Health/Shreveport and Ochsner are going to form a new health system to oversee and coordinate acrtivities between the health sciences center and the healthcare delivery system” 

OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT - Gov. John Bel Edwards appeared before a packed auditorium for the official LSU-Ochsner announcement Sept. 24, 2018.
Credit Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News

The partnership comes after years of back-and-forth  disagreements  between  the  LSU System  and  BRF,  formerly  known  as  the  BioMedical  Research  Foundation  which  took  over  management  of  both safety-net  hospitals  in North Louisiana in 2013  under  then  Governor Bobby Jindal’s  privatization  plan.   Over the past years,  LSU  has  accused  BRF of failing to provide a sustainable financial model that threatened the stability of both the medical school and the hospitals.  There had been concerns that the medical school in Shreveport might be closed.  But after the Governor’s announcement yesterday,  LSU System president F. King Alexander said this new partnership allows both the hospitals and the medical school to move forward.        

F. King Alexander, president-LSU System
Credit Courtesy: LSU

Alexander said, “We're not recoiling and we're not playing defense anymore. We'll actually will  have some revenues to work with Ochsner that will help us expand, recruit, the best students , recruit the best faculty and to grow what we're doing up here because the healthcare needs up here are just expanding throughout northwest and northeast  Louisiana.  And we want to tackle these with our talents and our students  and we're the main resource in this region to tackle the healthcare needs of the region. ”

Asked if this partnership helps healthcare in North Louisiana turn a corner, Alexander replied " I think absolutely and in fact the more students we can attract and retain, the more healthcare professionals we'll keep in Louisiana."

Shreveport Representatives Sam Jenkins (D-District 2) and Cedric Glover (D-District 4).
Credit Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News

State  Representative  Sam Jenkins, Jr  of  District 2  in Shreveport  observed that the Ochsner-LSU partnership  will  impact  healthcare, the local economy and encourage more medical research.

Jenkins explained, “This is the culmination of a good effort to make sure we're doing several things. Number 1:  keeping the medical school in this area, Number 2: have an economic engine that we need to secure the economy in this area; but more importantly to making sure that we're meeting the healthcare needs of people  not only in the northwest Louisiana area but can we reach out now and begin to address those medical needs and medical research issues around the world.” 

Ochsner Health System is southeast  Louisiana's largest non-profit, academic, multi-specialty, healthcare delivery system  and is expected to offer stability to the operations of  University Health Shreveport and University Health Monroe.    It is expected to start investing in hospital improvements immediately.  About 3,000 people who work at the hospitals will ultimately  become  Ochsner employees.