Acadiana Business

UMC is saved

by Patrick Flanagan

A massive downsizing of University Medical Center will be avoided thanks to a public-private partnership announced Monday afternoon between LSU and Lafayette General Medical Center.

Lafayette General Medical Center has announced a partnership with LSU to eventually take over University Medical Center.

LGMC President and CEO David Callecod

LGMC President and CEO David Callecod, during a press conference held inside the hospital's lobby, said the deal will include three "milestone" payments of $2.6 million to LSU, which will allow UMC to avoid severe cuts to the public hospital's staff and services. Original plans included cutting up to 173 jobs and reducing the public hospital's 353 inpatient beds down to 10.

"Through these milestone payments, we'll be able to stave off layoffs and allow UMC to continue offering the same level of services," Callecod told the crowd of about 100, which included LGMC staff, the Acadiana legislative delegation and dozens of medical residents from UMC.

The first milestone payment, Callecod said, will be made once the LSU Board of Supervisors signs off on a memorandum of understanding, which is scheduled for a vote during a special meeting on Friday.

The three payments will be spread out in installments through June 30. On July 1, LGMC is set to enter a cooperative endeavor agreement with LSU to take over management of the UMC campus. The particulars of that deal are not finalized, but are expected to be worked out between now and the June 30 deadline, Callecod added.

"This begins the next chapter in the LGMC Health System," said Callecod.

Also on hand during the press conference were state Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein and LSU Health Services Division Executive Vice President Dr. Frank Opelka, who earlier in the day made similar announcements of public-private partnerships involving LSU hospitals in New Orleans and Houma.

Callecod said the deal will allow LGMC to further fashion Lafayette as a "medical hub," which will be achieved by the eventual expansion of the graduate medical education programs offered at UMC.

According to an LGMC news release handed out during the press conference, UMC on July 1 will begin operating with 55 inpatient beds. The release also states that a "significant amount of the current workforce" will remain employed through the transition, and that "[a]ny displaced UMC workers will have opportunities in the Lafayette healthcare market as LGMC has over 150 job positions currently posted on its website."

Monday's announcement comes after Congress announced in July that it would be severely reducing Louisiana's Medicaid financing, which Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration responded to by pulling more than $300 million in state and federal funds from the LSU health system.