BATON ROUGE, La.— Management of two LSU hospitals in north Louisiana is being turned over to a not-for-profit research foundation that has never run a patientcare facility, raising concerns about whether it has the experience and the financing needed to oversee the public hospitals. The privatization of the university-run hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe is in contrast to the approach Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration took in south Louisiana, where nearly all of LSU’s facilities are being overseen by companies that run other private hospitals in the area. The Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana, or BRF, has more limited resources to pump into hospital operations and no background in hospital management. But on Oct. 1, the research foundation—led by a Jindal campaign donor and member of the LSU System governing board—will take over one of the state’s largest university-run hospitals. The BRF will assume management of the LSU Medical Center in Shreveport, which has more than 2,200 employees and a budget that topped $276 million in the last fiscal year. It also will operate E.A. Conway Medical Center in Monroe, a smaller hospital with about 550 workers. The no-bid, minimum 10-year contract will have an arm of the research foundation paying the state more than $40 million
annually to lease the hospitals, under terms still being worked out, according to the state Division of Administration. The Jindal administration and LSU leaders say they are confident the research foundation, created in 1986 to boost regional economic development, will be a strong partner. They say the privatization will save Louisiana money while protecting safety-net services for the poor and uninsured. The foundation’s president and CEO is John George, who sits on the LSU Board of Supervisors as a Jindal appointee and contributed $10,000 to Jindal campaigns. George said the BRF stepped up to help north Louisiana when other private hospitals weren’t willing to take over LSU hospital and clinic operations there. He said without privatization, the hospitals would have faced steep, damaging cuts, after Jindal levied much of a federal Medicaid financing reduction on the LSU healthcare system. George said concerns about the BRF’s lack of hospital management expertise were answered when the foundation hired healthcare consulting firm Alvarez and Marsal to devise a strategic plan for the hospitals and to help hire executives to run the facilities.