Frustration sets in as Louisiana Heart Hospital prepares to close

Frustration sets in as Louisiana Heart Hospital prepares to close

ST. TAMMANY PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Anger and frustration is starting to settle in on the North Shore as the impact of the closure of Louisiana heart hospital sinks in.

An estimated 900 people will lose their jobs as doctors ponder their next move.

It's been four days since Louisiana Heart Hospital announced it would close at the end of the month and Michael Cowie just learned he won't be getting an angiogram as planned.

"I got a call the day before yesterday basically saying they had canceled," Cowie said.

Cowie's doctor is now looking for a new facility to operate out of as are many other doctors who operate out of dozens of clinics like the one in Mandeville.

"I was shocked, angry, let down, and disappointed," said interventional cardiologist Dr. Barry Kusnick.

He was stunned to learn that the heart hospital where both he and his wife work was closing in spite of a recent uptick in business.

"Revenues were up 19 percent. Surgeries were up ER admissions were up," Kusnick said

He now worries about possible staff layoffs and years wasted trying to build up a Lacombe hospital that's closing for business; reasons he doesn't quite understand.

"We have a lot of energy a lot of heart and soul put in this place, not to mention a hefty financial investment," Kusnick said.

Among the hundreds of people losing jobs are physical therapist John Ware and his wife.

"How could you possibly like finding out that your job is ending with in a month," said Ware.

For doctors like Barry Kusnik, it's déjà-vu all over again. He used to be affiliated with Lakeview Hospital until he cast his lot with the heart hospital and now he's back.

"Many of us are already in the process of getting back privileges at Lakeview and they been most accommodating," said Kusnick.

Louisiana Heart Hospital had invested in dozens of satellite clinics on the northshore and now many will close.

"You have a lot of doctors who will still need a place to practice and remains to be seen if the hospital retains ownership," said Coldwell Banker commercial real estate expert Mark Inman.

Finding a new buyer for the hospital will also be a challenge.

"It's so big. It's going to be a challenge and what will be interesting is what's going to happen to the two adjoining towers," said Inman.

For now Michael Cowie will wait and see where his doctor ends up.

"Now he wants to wait until he firms things up for himself so he knows where they will treat me throughout the procedure," said Cowie.

"It breaks my heart some of these people have been with me for 20 years," Kusnick said.

At this point Dr. Kusnick says all options including relocation are on the table.

Real estate experts say although Louisiana Heart Hospital is centrally located, it may have suffered because it is far from northshore population centers like Slidel,l Mandeville, and Covington.

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