Groups bidding on Jefferson hospitals to meet Thursday - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Groups bidding on Jefferson hospitals to meet with Parish Council Thursday

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Jefferson Parish, La. - Thursday will be the first time the groups being considered to lease the West Jefferson Medical Center and East Jefferson General Hospital will be able to present their case to the Jefferson Parish Council. It's for a potentially billion-dollar, 30-year deal.

Hospital representatives received a surprise phone call Wednesday morning, informing them that they would each have 20 minutes to present and 10 minutes to answer council questions on Thursday.

"We welcome our chance to talk to them tomorrow and we think it's a valuable point in this process," said Louisiana Children's Medical Center President and Chief Operating Officer Greg Feirn.

It's something Ochsner representatives have been publicly in support of since the beginning of the process.

"I think what is good at this point in time is that the council is getting involved, the information is very much out in the open," said Ochsner CEO Warner Thomas.

Thomas says their offer is the lowest bid, but it commits to 500 new jobs. He says economists estimate that will be an economic impact of $1.8 billion over 30 years.

"We have the lowest financial offer on the table, but at the end of the day we invest our dollars into programs and people to make sure we can deliver great care," said Thomas.

Children's Hospital COO Greg Feirn promises to keep jobs local, too.

"Our proposal does not take jobs out of this area in fact we believe our system adds jobs," said Feirn.

HCA representative Rob Dyer sent this statement:

"This is a very important decision for the community and we believe through this process we have demonstrated to the boards why our vast experience, superior quality and access to resources, in addition to our superior financial commitment, would make us the best choice. We look forward to a timely decision that includes allowing us to take the next step toward expanding the great care we've been providing the residents of Jefferson Parish since 1972, when we acquired Lakeside Hospital for Women."

The groups do not know the exact criteria that will be used to compare the bids, or what will happen after the presentations on Thursday.

"I do think that having more clarity around the quality and the outcomes that the various parties have with the patients they take care of today should be another critical function or another critical area that's looked at," said Thomas.

And those aren't the only questions still up in the air.

It's understood that the net proceeds of the leases will go into a parish trust fund. Exactly how those funds will be used, and by whom, is still unclear. Knowing those details could help determine how much council and hospital board members may lean towards higher bids.

"We're comfortable with a decision [Thursday] or at a later date. It's a competitive process. The Jefferson Parish Council, the hospital districts, have run a process that they believe is in the best interest for their two hospitals," said Feirn.

Parish Council Chairman Chris Roberts informed news media  Wednesday evening that the groups' presentations will be made before the public.  An executive session to discuss the selection is expected after the presentations.

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