LCMC exec tries to allay concerns before Jeff Parish council - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

LCMC exec tries to allay concerns before Jeff Parish council

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

LCMC Health, which includes Children's Hospital, has been a part of news headlines lately and that resulted in the healthcare entity's CEO going before the Jefferson Parish Council on Wednesday to try to allay concerns.

LCMC is now negotiating with West Jefferson Medical Center, a Jefferson Parish-owned hospital, to take over operation of the medical facility.

As FOX 8 News first reported in mid-April, five children died after contracting mucormycosis, a fungal disease, from linens at Children's Hospital between 2008 and 2009.

Only after news coverage of the outbreak did the hospital apologize for not informing parents of the children who were sickened in the outbreak. The investigation eventually included the Centers for Disease Control.

"Was it ever documented or cited that Children's [Hospital] was not cooperative in that process?" asked Councilman Chris Roberts of LCMC Health CEO Greg Feirn.

"No, in fact our efforts were commended and at the time, and even after we gave consent to the CDC to talk about our efforts," answered Feirn.

Lawsuits have been filed as a result of the outbreak, but Feirn said the fallout from the outbreak will not affect their ability to take over operation of West Jefferson Medical Center if a lease agreement is successfully negotiated with the hospital and approved by the council.

"While those are unfortunate events, those events are in the past, those events will not impact our financial stability, as with any prudent business LCMC is extremely well insured and those events will not impact us," Feirn stated.

The federal government recently rejected a multimillion-dollar deal between LCMC Health and state government that would have LCMC operate the new state hospital, University Medical Center, which is under construction in New Orleans.

Feirn believes the state and the federal government will resolve that issue. He also addressed LCMC's financial health, despite the recent developments.

"So, where are we profitability-wise for our ability to move forward with West Jeff? We couldn't be more stable," said Feirn.

As far as a lease partner for East Jefferson Hospital in Metairie, there isn't one because two companies pulled out of the running, the Ochsner Health System, and the national company, Hospital Corporation of America, known as HCA.

HCA was also East Jefferson's favorite, but HCA said the process was dragging on too long and withdrew its lease proposal months ago.

Now the EJ Hospital Board wants the full parish council to write a letter urging HCA to come back to the negotiating table.

'"Once we fumbled this opportunity the first time of a $980 million offer, an offer that was $480 million richer than the second-highest, once you fumble that, I know it will be hard to re-engage, but I'm not going to give up," said Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, who chairs the East Jefferson Hospital Board.

Normand said HCA is a great fit for East Jefferson Hospital, and any past disagreements with some on the parish council should become a thing of the past.

"You know in the heat of the moment a lot of things were said and done during the original negotiation process, and quite frankly we've got to move beyond that," said Normand.

He also asked the council to ensure that the financial agreement being negotiated as part of the West Jefferson lease is a good one for the taxpayers of Jefferson because it will undoubtedly set the tone and tenor for the future lease for the East Jefferson Hospital.

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