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Editorial: Reform of health care delivery system long overdue

Last Modified: Friday, June 28, 2013 5:23 PM

The merger between Lake Charles Memorial Hospital and Moss Regional Medical Center has Southwest Louisiana residents hoping for a new and more efficient health care delivery system. That is the promise of those who worked to complete the merger earlier this week.

Such a marriage was destined because the model for Louisiana’s public hospital system, previously adminstered by LSU, had become obsolete. In fact, the state’s charity hospital system, which dated back to the days of Gov. Huey Long, was the only one of its kind in the nation.

The system itself was costing the state billions of dollars. It begged for reform. To his credit, Gov. Bobby Jindal answered the challenge and pushed a plan to privatize the state’s charity hospitals.

The archaic system, though, wasn’t the fault of Moss Regional or its dedicated employees. They had admirably served our corner of the state for decades while facing recent budget cuts and limited resources.

This new partnership offers optimism. Memorial Hospital President Larry Grantham said it will provide the uninsured and under-insured in Southwest Louisiana with more health-care options.

“In the past (patients) had to be referred to other LSU facilities in the state, whether it be in Lafayette, New Orleans or Shreveport,” he told the American Press. “Now, most of the specialists with specialty services they may need can be provided by our specialists here in town. Family and patients aren’t going to have to travel, and I think that’s a big deal.”

Memorial will absorb inpatient and emergency services heretofore provided by Moss. West Calcasieu-Cameron Hospital in Sulphur will provide some surgical and inpatient services for residents in west Calcasieu and Cameron Parish.

The Moss facility will remain open and provide services for asthma, gynecology, hyptenesion, infectious diseases, chemotherapy, dermatology, ophthalmology, rheumatology and pharmaceutical. The Moss emergency room has been converted to an urgent care clinic.

A new $5 million outpatient clinic will be constructed on the Moss campus, which was in dire need of upgrades.

There are still questions about the overall system’s conversion. Particularly of note is the need for transparency in the lease agreements between the private hospitals and previous LSU public hospitals.

The entire conversion will be judged on two primary factors: the capacity of it to deliver services to the hundred of thousands of Louisiana residents who lack health insurance and have been dependent on the charity hospital system, and the ability of this new initiative to save the state money.

Regardless, the reform was long overdue. There will assuredly be some growing pains, but it was a change that had to occur for the benefit of all concerned.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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