Last Modified: Monday, October 29, 2012 7:02 PM
Forced by federal cuts that will result in an $800 million hole in Louisiana’s public health-care budget, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration has been in emergency mode, trimming staff and services at the state’s 10 public hospitals to compensate.
The critical issue is how to provide adequate care and treatment to the nearly 1 million state residents who depend on the state’s charity hospital system with substantially less money.
Secondary to that mission, but nearly as vital, is how to maintain the state’s physician training program.
This under-the-gun reform of the health-care system has already garnered the attention of the national organization that accredits training programs for medical students.
The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education has asked LSU officials about how the changes in the public hospital system that the university oversees will affect medical students’ training.
LSU Executive Vice President Frank Opelka said that ACGME accreditation is vital for medical students when they are applying for specialty training. He told the LSU Board of Supervisors it’s important that LSU’s medical training program avoid being placed on probation.
ACGME Executive Director for Institutional Review Patricia Surdyk reminded LSU officials in an email earlier this month that any redesign must pass the agency’s inspection and suggested that LSU had yet to provide any information.
Opelka and LSU Health Sciences Center Chancellor Larry Hollier said they have been in contact with ACGME but it’s too early in the process to provide concrete details.
Some of this is understandable as the federal cuts served as a haymaker right on the chin of LSU’s public hospital system. Now the Jindal administration and LSU officials are trying to cobble a plan together with $800 million less in funding — no small feat.
Opelka said LSU is examining building on existing agreements with private hospitals that already host graduate medical education programs training and residency programs. He also said LSU is looking at forging a new agreement with Lafayette General Medical Center.
Hollier said he expects LSU will provide ACGME with its plan by the end of November.
The health, vibrancy and credibility of LSU’s medical training program isn’t something to monkey around with in this reform of the state’s public hospital system.
It deserves the utmost care. And the Jindal administration and LSU officials should be mindful of the doctor’s creed to do no harm when it comes to LSU’s training of medical students.
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, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.