LSUBMC details budget cuts

Published 8:58 am Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The $3.1 million hit prompted by a total statewide $523 Medicaid cut, of which the LSU Health Care System was saddled with $329 million, represents about 5 percent of LSU Bogalusa Medical Center’s regular $59.5 annual budget, said LSUBMC CEO Kurt Scott.

On Friday, the local hospital learned its portion of the system-wide cuts, including the fact that it would mean closure and consolidation of some BMC clinics.

This week, Scott said the details are still being worked out, but that even if some services are lost, the quality of care will be maintained.

“This will make it longer for people to see a primary care doctor,” he said. “It will push out the wait time for appointments. Because we consolidate clinics, we won’t have quite as much capacity.”

The always-busy Memphis Street campus clinics are among those tagged to be closed, but regular primary care services will be provided at the hospital’s Family Medicine Clinic, Scott said.

With the potential closure of some specialty clinics, such as ophthalmology, “there may be some services that we don’t supply any more, and we will refer patients to other places,” Scott said.

“But that’s not definite,” he said. “We are still formulating the exact plan.”

The medical center is also working to finalize who will be among the approximately 30 employees who will lose their jobs due to the funding cuts.

“It will be primarily clinical and clinical support jobs,” Scott said. “It all has to be approved by Civil Service.”

While the leadership of LSUBMC works to make its reduced budget work for the community, the CEO said the “focus will always be on maintaining the quality of care.”

“We are not going to reduce the quality of care,” he said. “This may affect access to clinics. People might not be able to get appointments as readily as they can now. But primary care will still be available, and this will not impact in-patient care.”

While the details are being worked out, BMC “will be sensitive to the needs of patients and employees,” Scott said.

“But the reality is that we run a very efficient operation,” he said. “There are not a lot of places to trim without affecting services. Consolidating clinics is one way to save.”

As for the $7.5 million expansion/renovation project involving the emergency room and more, which was due to get under way this summer, Scott said, “At this point we will continue to move forward.”