A week after simmering tensions between Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center and Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center erupted into a public battle that involved name-calling, severed alliances, hints of potential litigation and threats of disrupted patient care, the two former partners are working quietly behind the scenes to repair what is left of their relationship.
That doesn’t mean MBPCC is rethinking the decision to end its nearly decade-long affiliation with OLOL and partner with an out-of-state network of independent oncology practices.
On the contrary, MBPCC is continuing to finalize its deal with the Nashville-based OneOncology and is expected to sign the new agreement any day, according to sources familiar with the situation.
But MBPCC and OLOL are working out differences over some of the key issues that had led to the recent fireworks.
Chief among them is OLOL’s future relationship with one of the major oncology practices in the market, Louisiana Hematology and Oncology Associates.
LHOA is an independent group that currently has a physicians services agreement with OLOL but is ending that relationship at the end of the year and partnering with MBPCC beginning in 2022.
OLOL responded by threatening to end the PSA with LHOA nearly two months early, which could have had implications for patient care.
But the physician group and OLOL have agreed to continue working together through the end of the year, and physician access to patient records through OLOL’s medical records system will not be hampered, sources say.
The two sides also want to keep open lines of communication for potential future partnerships in other areas, like radiation oncology, lab and MRI services.
Earlier this week, Dr. Richard Vath, chairman of OLOL’s parent organization, the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, met for lunch with Richard Lipsey, a key stakeholder at MBPCC and supporter of both institutions.
Lipsey, last week, referred to the FMOL system as greedy.
At the recent meeting, Lipsey, who does not represent MBPCC, says the two agreed to work together.
“I think they wanted to clear the air,” he says. “Quite honestly, the way they acted they deserve what they got but we’re all friends and we’re going to work out what is best for the community.”
Through a hospital spokesman, Vath says, “We’re always willing to talk to anybody. Our goal has been to do what is best for the continuity of patient care.”