Parish president says closed heart hospital will get new life

LA Heart Hospital Future

LACOMBE, LA (WVUE) - St. Tammany Parish officials said Friday that a recently closed medical facility will be rehabilitated in a big way.

"We're going to convert this facility to a post-acute care facility with long-term acute care, skilled nursing care and rehabilitation care. This is for patients that are really not ready to go home but are not ill enough to be in an acute care hospital," said Ochsner Health System President and CEO Warner Thomas.

Parish President Pat Brister announced before an enthusiastic crowd that Ochsner has reached an agreement to lease the property. Ochsner already partners with St. Tammany Parish Hospital and Slidell Memorial Hospital.

"It means so much on several levels. First and foremost it's a facility that will fill a gap that we have in a continuum of care, the acute care facility that it will be.  We didn't have a lot of beds in St. Tammany Parish to facilitate that," said Brister.

"We discharge about 17,000 people a year that need post-acute care. The exact number I think we'll treat here, it'll be several thousand," Thomas said.

Thomas said they will initially open up 85 beds; specifically a 30-bed long-term acute care unit for patients with serious medical conditions; a  25-bed skilled nursing facility for patients needing short-term rehabilitation and a 30-bed inpatient rehabilitation unit.

"So using an example in rehabilitation, these would be folks that may be stroke, folks that have had strokes, folks that have had any sort of joint replacements and have had other types of medical conditions, any sort of trauma or brain type of injuries, so we would be able to do comprehensive rehabilitation as well as skilled nursing to help them transition back home," said Thomas.

When the heart hospital closed earlier this year St. Tammany Parish Government felt it.

"It was a big hit to our tax base for our fire districts, our rent districts, our lighting districts, all of them received some millage from the taxes," said Brister.

"Many of the folks that left the Heart Hospital were hired at some of our facilities.  The addition of these services will actually be additional job growth and with the addition of a Ochsner Service Center or administrative positions we're going to be able to hire more people on the north shore," said Warner.

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