House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, speaks at a news conference on Friday. State health officials said they have found a private operator to run the LSU hospital in Lake Charles that provides safety net care for the uninsured. The Department of Health and Hospitals said that management of LSU's W.O. Moss Regional Medical Center will be turned over to Lake Charles Memorial Hospital and West Cal-Cam Hospital. (Natalie Stewart / American Press)
Last Modified: Saturday, January 19, 2013 8:14 PM
Employees at W.O. Moss Regional Medical Center and the patients they serve can finally breath a sign of relief as the hospital enters into a partnership with Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Frank Opelka, LSU System executive vice president for health care, announced Friday at a news conference that a public/private partnership between Moss Regional and Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, along with their partner West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital, will modernize and sustain health care for Southwest Louisiana that is provided through the charity hospital.
The partnership will preserve patient services that are currently in place at Moss Regional, Opelka said. Memorial Hospital will lease property from Moss Regional and West Cal-Cam Hospital will sublease components of Moss Regional from Memorial.
Other aspects of the partnership will include Memorial assuming responsibility for the facility and operations at Moss Regional and Moss Regional will continue to serve as a charity hospital in Southwest Louisiana for patients who are uninsured as well as those on Medicaid.
“The hospitals involved will develop a memorandum of understanding which will be presented to the LSU Board of Supervisors for their approval,” Opelka said. “After these memorandums are approved, LSU will begin working with Lake Charles Memorial and West Cal-Cam toward cooperative endeavor agreements that will spell out the terms of the new relationship and how it will preserve and enhance patient care.”
State run hospitals in Houma, New Orleans, and Lafayette have also adopted public/private partnerships to curtail funding cuts.
Bruce Greenstein, Department of Health and Hospitals secretary, said the partnership will allow Moss Regional to avoid layoffs and maintain current services.
“The LSU System has been on an accelerated path to redesign health care services because of Congress’ sudden actions in July to reduce federal medical assistance ... to the lowest level Louisiana has had in more than 25 years,” he said. “(The) decrease has caused us to speed up this transformation.”
Dr. Mohammed Sarwar, Moss Regional medical director, has been at the hospital for 15 years and said for the first time since then he can “breath a sign of relief.”
“I am really thankful to everybody, this is the first time I’m able to breath a sign of relief,” he said. “Every year we go through ‘Is Moss going to close,’ ... now we can have comfort that Moss is not closing anytime in the near future. We work really hard, and Moss is our home. So, we are very happy.”
Congress’ reduced Louisiana’s Federal Medical Assistance Percentage eliminating $126.9 million in State General Funds from the LSU System’s budget. There was a total reduction of $329.2 million when federal funds that would have been matched are taken into consideration, Greenstein said.
Greenstein said it has long been known that the public hospital system is outdated and unsustainable.
“Given the changing landscape of health care, the LSU System has to change its model to survive and thrive in this health care marketplace,” he added. “The (funding) decrease acted as a catalyst for the LSU System to do what they have always known was necessary — to identify ways to run programs more efficiently and effectively, and to transform operations to create a sustainable health care system.”
Greenstein said the partnership gives Moss Regional the ability to withstand and depend less on future appropriations and changes in state financing.
Larry Graham, president of Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, said he and his staff are looking forward to the collaboration with the LSU System and West Cal-Cam.
“We could not ask for better partners,” he said. “Memorial has always been a team player when it comes to the health care needs of our community, and all of our decisions begin with the question: What is the right thing to do for our community?”
“Memorial believes that preserving the health care safety net for the working poor and uninsured served by Moss Regional is the right thing to do,” Graham added. “Lake Charles Memorial Health Care System understands and welcomes this new model of patient services, and we will do our best to work together with our partners to ensure quality health care for our community.”
Bill Hankins, chief executive officer of West Cal-Cam Hospital, echoed Graham’s sentiments on looking forward the working partnership.
“West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital has a long-standing relationship with Moss Regional,” he said. “Several physicians from our campus in Sulphur have been working at Moss Regional for a number of years. We have had a great relationship and we are confident that they are going to continue to provide (health care) is very exciting for all of us.”
House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, said with the partnership, Southwest Louisiana is taking health care “to the next level.”
“Finally, we are moving out of the outdated, antiquated charity system that was developed back in ... the 1930s and into the 21st century,” he said. “We are coming into a facility that has the financial resources, that has the technology, that has the expertise ... that has the staffing to do what we need to do, and what we should have done many, many years ago here in Southwest Louisiana to bring our health care and deliver health care to the people that can least afford it ... and give them the proper health care they need.”
Kleckley said “that’s what we have been missing here in this state.”
“We are taking our health care here in Southwest Louisiana and we are moving it to the next level,” he said. “I cannot say how proud and how excited I am.”
Sen. Ronnie John, R-Lake Charles, said in his 13 years in the legislature it has been a concern rather Moss Regional was going to remain open and rather the facility was going to have the funding to provide “the very basics.”
Johns commended Moss Regional Interim Administrator, Jimmy Pottorff, and his staff for being “loyal and tireless” in providing quality health care.
“Change never comes easy,” Johns said. “But, if we don’t change, we go backwards. The important message is Moss Regional will be open for business and it will hopefully in the future be able to deliver more care than it has been able to do in the past.”
Opelka said employees at Moss Regional will continue to work within the partnership and will be offered opportunities to change their job position from LSU to work under Lake Charles Memorial, and employees in physician and clinical services will remain LSU employees.
Graham said it’s Memorial’s intent to hire as many employees as necessary to accomplish the mission of running all services currently at Moss Regional fully.
The transition is expected to begin in the coming months and be completed by July.
Posted By: Brad On: 1/22/2013
Title: What is 'outdated' is backroom dealing
The attempt to privatize Louisiana's Charity Hospital system can only be attempted in the ABSENCE of the state legislature and the public. Our state's integrated healthcare safety net is being picked apart and put out to bid without any comprehensive studies that the supposed "public private partnerships" (PPP) will actually $AVE the public money. Moreover, if the closure and mass layoff of State Civil Service health profesionals at Southeast Louisiana Hospital is any indication, the dedicated workers of W.O. Moss -- as well as their patients -- are in for a RUDE AWAKENING.
Posted By: Jessi McInnis On: 1/21/2013
Title: State employees on losing end of deal??
This decision, while keeping the hospital's doors open, does not bode well for Louisiana State Civil Service employees, some of whom have been working for the State for many, many years and have acquired a sizeable amount of accrued leave time and retirement. What about State employees' insurance? Upon separation from State employment, an employee is only paid a maximum of 300 hours of their accrued leave time. The remainder, if any, is "banked" in the event an employee returns to State employment elsewhere within the required five (5) year period, then the remainder is credited back to that employee. If an employee is given the opportunity to remain at Moss Regional under the employ of Lake Charles Memorial, does the same apply? Or will the employee just lose the accrued time? To maintain the earned leave time, an employee would have to seek work elsewhere within the Louisiana Civil Service ranks which are bare minimum right now, with little to no options. What about years of service toward retirement? State employees right now have an above-average insurance plan with many options for providers and pharmacies. Is it true that Memorial employees HAVE to use the Memorial pharmacy? This would be inconvenient to those working at Moss Regional, NOT AT Memorial, not to mention, those who live outside of Lake Charles and use providers closer to their home. As a former State employee, who also worked on-site at Moss Regional at one time, I am very happy that the hospital is remaining open because the services and the outpatient clinics provided are very needed in this community. However, I am very sad for my fellow State employees who had no vote in a decision that strongly impacts the lives of them and their families. I truly believe they are on the losing end of the deal.
Posted By: Karen Fitzpatrick On: 1/20/2013
whew, good news! Now maybe patients will be treated with more dignity and respect by the doctors nurses! Specifically Dr Benipal's nurse. The way she calls patients into their room by yelling their names from the back room is incredibly rude and unprofessional. She is never so busy that she cant even walk to the door and quietly calling your name...