Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS -

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.

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