Jefferson Parish Pres. Mike Yenni says its too early to discuss selling East Jeff Hospital

Jefferson Parish Pres. Mike Yenni says its too early to discuss selling East Jeff Hospital

METAIRIE, La. (WVUE) -Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni says any talk of selling East Jefferson Hospital to a private company would be premature.

Recently Yenni has been critical of the hospital’s board of directors which is negotiating with the LCMC Health system for a possible partnership.

But the hospital’s CEO said Yenni has not filled his own appointment to the board.

Yenni questions whether the board is taking all the right steps.

"I don’t think the board has done their due diligence on this whole program because I’m not understanding it to be a lease, I’m understanding it to be a sale,” said Yenni.

Recently the hospital board and LCMC Health signed a memorandum of understanding to allow them to explore what they call a “strategic affiliation.” They said the negotiations would take months.

"Obviously, this MOU is extremely important to what they've signed Jefferson Parish into and the fact that we're looking to sell the hospital,” Yenni said of the MOU.

He said any discussion about a possible sale of the hospital to LCMC would be premature since a vote by the people of Jefferson Parish would be needed.

"In my opinion, it probably would be good to go out to a vote of the people first to see if we can even get that permission, to make sure they would allow us to sell it because if we go work through a deal and spend hundreds of thousands or a few million dollars to work this deal out and then the public rejects it, well, we've just wasted money,” said Yenni.

The hospital is located in the district of Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken. She says the hospital provides excellent care.

"We’ve signed a memorandum of understanding with LCMC, so now is the discussion and the work that we have to do to see if there is an affiliation where both of us work together into the future and it’s a win-win,” she said.

However, there has been criticism that Yenni has not attended recent hospital board meetings and the office of hospital CEO Gerald Parton told FOX 8 News that Yenni’s latest appointee to the board was ineligible because he does not live in Jefferson Parish and that another appointment has not been made.

While Yenni did not address that specifically during an interview earlier in the day, he did reference a change related to his board appointee.

"I was in the change of a board position because Mr. Conley who's now a councilman-at-large was my board appointee, so there were some things that I wasn't aware of because of that change,” he said.

Yenni thinks the parish council should hire its own hospital consultant.

"My letter to the council was plain and clear, they need to have oversight over this deal,” he said.

Van Vrancken insisted the council is being informed of the discussions.

"At this point, we had an executive session at our last council meeting where all of the people who are currently working on this partnership came in and briefed the council and so I think we have some tremendous people on board, some of the best health merger attorneys in the country,” she said.

Parton issued the following statement to FOX 8 News on the matter of outside consultants:

“The issue has been raised whether outside consultants should be brought in with our negotiations. Nationally recognized experts have been leading our negotiating team since the beginning. These outside experts include Quorum Health Resources, Berkeley Research Group (both national healthcare consultants) and McDermott, Will and Emory (leading healthcare merger and acquisition firm). They comprise the financial, managerial and legal experience needed in the type of affiliation being considered by EJGH and LCMC Health.

Last week, EJGH and the consultants briefed the Parish Council on all aspects of the affiliation. We committed to updating the Council regularly about future developments. There are issues under discussion that must be resolved, but we are approaching this as an alliance that will ensure EJGH can continue to provide the highest quality of healthcare to the residents of Jefferson Parish. We intend to keep that commitment.

We are confident that our briefing on June 19 brought the Council up to date.”

Yenni said it would be helpful if parish government had a director for health and hospitals.

"I’ve always believed we need in our parish code of ordinances or charter, I can’t remember where it is exactly, we had a director for health and hospitals to kind of oversee everything, it was never acted upon. I asked the council to do that a couple of years ago,” he said.

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