By Ken Stickney
Gov. Bobby Jindal praised the public-private partnership that salvaged University Hospital and Clinics, and pointed to the growth in patient beds and services there as proof that the effort is working.
Speaking at a Thursday news conference, Jindal, flanked by hospital administrators and physicians, noted that the hospital had added eight hospital beds and an operating room. Those changes came almost immediately after University Medical Center's operations were placed under the leadership of Lafayette Regional Health System direction.
Now, he said, more beds were expected to open and services such as orthopedics have been restored to the UHC campus.
Jindal recalled when federal Medicare funding cutbacks forced Louisiana to reconsider how it was delivering health care to the poor.
"This state faced a huge challenge," Jindal said. The choice, he said, was to "cut services or reinvent the way we deliver health services."
Jindal said each Louisiana community that serves as home for the 10 charity hospitals has had to search for unique ways to keep their hospitals in operation.
Half have made the transition so far. Lafayette General assumed control of UMC operations on June 24, seamlessly renaming the hospital and hiring much of the UMC staff. Lafayette General is leasing the UHC campus for $15 million a year under a partnership it has with the state and LSU Health.
David Callecod, president and CEO of Lafayette General, said the partnership has worked well for UHC and for Lafayette General Medical Center. Part of the partnership with LSU Health has enabled LGMC to become a teaching hospital, as medical residents have been added to LGMC. Formerly, LSU trained its doctors solely at the charity hospitals, such as UMC.
Jindal and other speakers noted that oftentimes medical residents choose to remain in the community where they train. That gives Lafayette and Acadiana an advantage in luring doctors here and retaining them.
Gregg Gothreaux, president of Lafayette Economic Development Authority, said the new partnership has been of great economic value locally.
"UMC was on the track to become a scaled-back clinic or completely shut down due to federal Medicaid reductions," he said. "Now that Lafayette General Health has taken over operations of the facility, it will continue to contribute to Lafayette's economy."
-- Lafayette Economic Development Authority