Green: Ochsner, LSU partnership a lesson in cooperation

[Ed.’s Note: This column was originally published in the Oct. 1, 2018 edition of BIZ.]

It’s finally final…northwest Louisiana has added a new player to its healthcare industry with the partnership of Ochsner Health System and LSU Health Shreveport to take over University Health.

Officials from LSU, Ochsner, LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport and the Biomedical Research Foundation (BRF) signed letters of intent to create the new private-public partnership in December 2017. In early September, the LSU Board of Supervisors approved a cooperative endeavor agreement. It was made official on Oct 1.

Ochsner and LSU Health Shreveport will jointly form Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport to oversee and coordinate activities between the health sciences center and the healthcare delivery system.

Along with several planned upgrades, a new governing board will be formed with representation from LSU Health Shreveport, Ochsner and the community.

It’s been a long, controversial-at-times road to this point.

It really began five years ago when Gov. Bobby Jindal privatized the state-operated charity hospitals, with BRF taking over operations of University Health.

BRF and state officials began feuding almost immediately with LSU claiming the BRF was incapable of operating the hospitals and BRF firing back that the state’s compensation for north Louisiana safety net hospitals was significantly lower than in New Orleans. Breach of contract notices and antitrust lawsuits followed.

That said, BRF did make improvements in revenue, decreased waiting times for services, and restored trauma center designation.

Regardless of what’s transpired, what matters now is that there is stability and strength in leadership for a major employer in our region.

Losing what NLEP ranks as the third largest employer in Caddo Parish would be catastrophic.

And another vital aspect is that Ochsner has experience. It is the largest private employer in Louisiana, owning, managing, or being affiliated with 30 hospitals across the state with more than 1,300 physicians and nearly 19,000 employees.

This can only mean good things ahead and I hope the community will join me in looking forward instead of backwards.

This is a rare win-win-win. And moreover, a testament to how private and public entities can cooperate to find something that benefits everyone involved.

Congratulations to LSU, the state of Louisiana, Ochsner and BRF on putting egos aside to do what’s best for them and, most importantly, the employees and patients.

Sean Green is publisher and editor of BIZ. Magazine