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LSU Hospitals Cutting Patient Services, 1,500 Jobs
The publicly-funded hospital system run by LSU handed down massive cuts today as a result of the state's Medicaid meltdown earlier this year. Across the state, seven hospital operations that provided care to the uninsured are poised to become a shell of their former selves as the state cuts $150 million in funding, or 20 percent of the LSU hospital budget. About one-third of the funding cuts will come In New Orleans, where LSU Interim Hospital in the CBD will see about 420 layoffs.
That will result in a reduction of medical/surgery beds to 90, and a consolidated surgery schedule with two less operating rooms. A New Orleans mobile clinic will also close, and the hospital will phase out OB/GYN services. The state claimed the cuts will not affect the new LSU Medical Center that is currently under construction in Lower Mid-City, but a public-private partnership to fund that new project is not yet in place.
The entire LSU hospital system will shed jobs, with Earl Long Medical Center in Baton Rouge losing about 340 jobs, Chabert Medical Center in Houma losing 245 positions and University Medical Center losing about 170 jobs.
Patient services seem unlikley to be spared. Earl K. Long Hospital will consolidate operations to one floor, and operate 15 beds as a result of the cuts. Officials said this was an accelerated move to shift services to Our Lady of the Lake hospital as part of a new partnership. UMC in Lafayette, Walter Moss Regional Hospital in Independence and Kemp Medical Center in Shreveport will now have 10 beds each.
Meanwhile, ICU services will be cut at Earl Long Hospital, and in Independence and Lafayette. Bogalusa Medical Center will close its 18-bed psychiatric unit.
The new cuts are the biggest slice out of the $859 million in Medicaid money the state lost earlier this summer. The federal government took back funding that was mistakenly appropriated to Louisiana during the drafting of the federal health care bill in order to pay for the federal trasportation bill. State health officials already budgeted for the Medicaid money when it was cut.
Even before the Medicaid cuts that wreaked havoc across the state, officials from the Jindal administration and the LSU system talked about making serious reforms to the publicly funded Charity Hospital as Louisianans have known it.
In a statement today, LSU Hospital exec Frank Opelka said the Charity Hospital system has "long been on an unsustainable path that threatens the strength of our medical training programs. Decreasing inpatient volumes and continued isolation from the evolving health care market have resulted in a system in decline."
Officials have said the future of the system, including the new LSU Medical Center in Lower Mid-City will hinge on public-private partnerships.
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