LSU hospital cuts could be 'horrendous' in Houma - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

LSU hospital cuts could be 'horrendous' in Houma

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Houma, La. - It began decades ago as a vision of Louisiana legislator Leonard Chabert.  The medical center named after him provides care to thousands of patients in Terrebonne and the surrounding parishes.

"Oddly enough, he fought for the remainder of his time in the Legislature -- from the House, then he was elected to the Senate -- to make sure that cuts like this didn't occur," says his son, state Senator Norby Chabert (R-Houma).

Chabert Medical Center could see massive cuts in the next few months.  The state faces a more than $800 million shortfall because of decreased Medicaid funding. 

LSU Health officials announced last week how that shortfall would be passed on to the seven hospitals in its system.  $14 million will be slashed from the budget at Chabert and more than 225 jobs eliminated.

Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet says the plan also calls for shutting down some services.  "It's my belief that the cuts that are going to be made are not only cutting off the fat, it cuts off the flesh, it also gets into the bone," says Claudet.

Claudet says the cuts will have a "horrendous" impact on Terrebonne Parish. Chabert Medical Center contributes more than $250 million a year to the local economy.  But he says it's the poor and uninsured that will hurt the most.

Claudet is working with the hospital and other local and state leaders to stop at least some of the cuts.  Senator Chabert says there's still time to come up with a plan.

The $800 million cut to the state will be split into two rounds, in January and July of next year.

"Can I sit here with you and say that people will not lose their jobs between now and then?  No, I can't say that," says Chabert. "But we are efforting in very creative and constructive ways to mitigate those cuts to make them as palatable and painless as possible."

With so much money needing to be trimmed from the hospital's budget, the vision looks a little dimmer.

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