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FMOLHS, LCMC Health try to slow state’s pending deal with Ochsner over management of north Louisiana hospitals

Though negotiations between the state, LSU and Ochsner over the management of two north Louisiana charity hospitals are in the eleventh hour, two other major healthcare providers— Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, which owns Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, and LCMC Health, which owns Children’s Hospital in New Orleans—are asking Gov. John Bel Edwards to put the brakes on the talks with Ochsner and consider partnering with them instead.

In a letter dated Dec. 1, FMOLHS President and CEO John Finan and LCMC Health CEO Gregory Feirn ask Edwards for a meeting “as soon as possible to discuss a potential collaboration in greater detail.”

The letter, the group’s “second and most urgent request to discuss options to collaborate with the state,” goes on to argue that FMOLHS and LCMC Health are the “most logical, cost effective and synergistic collaborative for the state in addressing the need for health care in north Louisiana.”  

FMOLHS provides indigent care and graduate medical education for the Baton Rouge market through OLOL, while LCMC does the same in New Orleans at University Medical Center.

The letter notes that other healthcare providers have historically been unwilling to partner with LSU and the state to support graduate medical education and care of the Medicaid and indigent population, but that “LCMC and FMOLHS chose to support the state’s goals to create successful partnerships in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.”

The state has been negotiating since September with Ochsner about taking over management duties at the two safety net hospitals in Monroe in Shreveport, after notifying the current manager of the two hospitals, BRF, that it was in breach of contract with the state.

The LSU Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the new management agreement with Ochsner at its regularly scheduled meeting Friday.

With the clock ticking, it is unclear whether Edwards will meet with the executives from the Baton Rouge and New Orleans hospitals. Sources familiar with the negotiations say talks with Ochsner are so far down the road at this point it’s unlikely the letter from Finan and Feirn will change anything.

The governor’s office did not respond to a request seeking comment on the letter.

For its part, FMOLHS says in a statement provided to Daily Report that it wants to slow the process and get involved in the talks because “millions of dollars are at stake and everyone, especially our elected officials and LSU Board of Supervisors, should take time to truly understand options and to get this right.”

LSU officials did not respond to a request seeking comment in time for publication.

—Stephanie Riegel

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