HCA Withdraws Proposals to Run Jefferson Parish Hospitals

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Hospital Corporation of America, or HCA, no longer wants to run the public hospitals in Jefferson Parish.

“This process has simply gone on for too long, with no appearance of resolution and no end in sight. We are not prepared to continue in this process,” said HCA Mid America Division President Mel Lagarde in a written statement.  “We appreciate the efforts of the Hospital Boards and the Parish Council, as well as the support we’ve received from many in the community throughout this process.  We wish you well as you continue to evaluate options for the future of your hospitals.”

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand is the Chairman of East Jefferson General Hospital.  Thursday afternoon, Normand said he was not surprised by HCA’s decision.  He said the EJ board preferred HCA, but he felt the company was being maligned publicly by opponents who supported other hospital management companies for the job.

Children’s Medical Center and Ochsner are the other two finalists for the job.  Normand says both are good companies, but he said that he’s unsure if they’re large enough and have enough money to properly manage the parish’s public hospitals.

Normand also recalled the results of a previous study that showed the two hospitals would not survive financially if they combined forces.  Currently they work independently of one another.  Normand asked — if the two hospitals cannot survive if they combine forces — could they do much better being run by a company that itself only operates a few other facilities?

He feels HCA, which operates hospitals around the country, would give Jefferson Parish the most bang for the buck.  Normand wondered if other companies that did not make the initial list of three finalists would be reconsidered.  The Jefferson Parish Council has the final say on which company will get the job.   There is also a possibility that different companies will each be given one of the hospitals to run.

“At some point, we’re going to partner with somebody.  We’re going to have to.  Unless the public has a desire to publicly finance and buoy operations vis-a-vis a tax,” Normand said.

He also feels that if either Children’s or Ochsner gets the contract, those companies will begin looking to partner with a larger management company in the near future.  Normand worries that the parish will have little or no say about who that larger partner could be.