Jefferson Parish Council cancels Thursday vote on hospital leas - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Jefferson Parish Council cancels Thursday vote on hospital leases

Updated:

Marrero, La.-The Jefferson Parish Council has canceled its meeting on Thursday to vote on which company will take over the leases for East and West Jefferson Hospitals.

Monday evening Councilman Chris Roberts told Fox 8 that the parish Inspector General is set to release a report on Wednesday. Roberts says the meeting Thursday was canceled in order to give council members time to review the Inspector General's report.

Earlier Monday the board set Thursday as the day to vote.  that decision came after a board made up of representatives of both hospital boards could not reach a consensus on a recommendation for the parish council.

"The ball has been given to the Jefferson Parish Council in order to decide. I'm disappointed that we did not reach a consensus, I'm not disappointed with the passion and everything that goes along with that inside the board room," said Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand who chairs the EJ Hospital board during an interview with FOX 8 News after the board failed to reach agreement during a meeting at West Jefferson Hospital earlier Monday.

The board members have had difficulty settling on one operator for both hospitals.

"The East Jeff Board strongly believes that HCA, the owner of over 160 hospitals, of which 112 used to be not for profit hospitals that they bring a strength nationally that's going to put us in a better position to succeed in the future," said Normand.

HCA is based in Nashville, but runs Tulane Medical Center and Lakeside Hospital.

The West Jefferson board favors having the Louisiana Children's Medical Center, which currently operates Children's Hospital, Touro Infirmary, and the Interim LSU Hospital take-over operation of Jefferson's two parish-owned medical facilities.

"The entire West Jefferson Board was in favor of L.C.M.C," said Jefferson Parish Council Chair Chris Roberts.

Ochsner is also in the running.

While the representatives of the hospital boards could not reach agreement on which of the three contenders should get the opportunity to sign a lease with the parish, Roberts and fellow Councilman Elton Lagasse announced Monday that they endorse L.C.M.C.

"We feel most comfortable with Children's…The management from Children's is local, they're here, they're part of our community, part of the fabric, they're a non-profit, I think their reputation speaks for itself," Roberts stated.

HCA made the highest bid in terms of lease payments to the parish. Its offering totals $537 million. Louisiana Children's Medical Center came in second with $406 million and Ochsner has offered around $380 million.

"We have been reaching out as a board to find enough qualities in Children's in order to overcome that financial delta in children's [proposal]," said Normand.

"To us this has never been about the highest bidder, it's not a concern for us about what this is monetarily going to generate for the parish because somewhere along the line a for profit company ends up making that up in some, we're concerned about being able to retain jobs, about being able procure locally, and about having decisions made locally," said Roberts.

Council members Ben Zahn Paul Johnston, and Cynthia Lee-Sheng told FOX 8 News that they wanted to postpone Thursday's vote. Johnston said he cannot understand why there is a rush to make a decision when the joint hospital board could not come to a consensus. Zahn said he backs the EJ board's push to have a split decision that would allow EJ to choose its own operator. Lee-Sheng also said more time for discussion is needed given the lack of consensus by the joint board for the hospitals.

Roberts did not indicate when the council would now vote on the lease takeover.

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