Jindal urges new teaching hospital board to consider alternative plan

Date: Jun 14, 2011

BATON ROUGE -- After a meeting Monday with Sen. David Vitter, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and others, Gov. Bobby Jindal called for the University Medical Center governing board to consider a business model for a new teaching hospital in New Orleans beyond what state authorities and Louisiana State University System administrators have pushed for the past several years.

The governor was careful not to endorse any particular model, but said development of a business plan for a "world-class medical education and research facility" should at least include a look at more closely integrating Tulane University's medical enterprise, which is now anchored at Tulane Medical Center, jointly owned by the university and the for-profit Hospital Corporation of America.

Yet the governor also insisted that such an effort, which would involve commissioning another outside consultant, not upset the existing timeline of approving a business and financing plan by late summer and beginning construction in earnest in the succeeding months.

"I don't think this has to slow anything down," Jindal said.

Even with the size, scope and financing still not finalized, the UMC is projected to open in 2015.

Jindal's sentiments, also expressed in a public letter to UMC board members, came after a private meeting in his Capitol office that included Vitter, Landrieu, state Treasurer John Kennedy, House Speaker Jim Tucker, and four hospital board members: Chairman Bobby Yarborough, Darryl Berger, Boysie Bollinger and David Voelker.

Vitter, Kennedy and Tucker last week asked the governor to abandon the long-standing 424-bed, $1.2 billion proposal that has been the centerpiece of several financial analyses, including a Kaufman Hall & Associates report completed earlier this month for the UMC governing board. An earlier one was done in 2010 by Verite Healthcare Consulting for the Jindal administration.

Jindal's fellow Republicans seized on the Kaufman Hall report, which echoed the Verite forecast of significant state general fund support for a new hospital, as proof that UMC would be overbuilt and a burden taxpayers. They advocated instead that the state buy Tulane Medical Center, which includes a downtown campus and Lakeside Hospital in Metairie, and build a smaller, new hospital either within the old Charity shell or on the UMC footprint in Mid-City, near downtown.

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