Future still cloudy for Bogalusa hospital

Published 5:51 am Sunday, March 17, 2013

While LSU and the state of Louisiana have announced deals for private companies to take over other hospitals in the LSU system over recent weeks, the status of LSU Bogalusa Medical Center has been out of the news.

This week, LSUBMC CEO Kurt Scott said there has been considerable activity on the local front.

“There are interested parties,” he said. “Negotiations continue. We are in active discussion, and we anticipate something definitive within 60 days or so.”

Because of the nature of the negotiations between the state and the private hospitals, Scott could not give the names of the “interested parties.”

In response to widely expressed concerns by local health care professionals about the status of their state retirement programs in relation to the privatization, Scott was both understanding and reassuring.

The LSU employees are required to pay into the state LASERS program rather than Social Security. A switch over could cause a loss of the retirement program, including its health insurance provision, for longtime vested employees and the loss of pensions and accrued sick and annual time for those who are vested but have not met the minimum years of service to even qualify for a retirement benefit.

A letter to the Daily News signed by State of Louisiana Health Care Professionals says, “It is not right to change the retirement plan or take away accrued sick and annual time for employees that have been working toward it and counting on it for many years.”

Scott commented on the situation as it relates to LSUBMC.

“For those who are concerned about maintaining their state pension and other benefits—some have left to take other state jobs–we can understand that,” Scott said. “At the same time, we are here to take care of patients, and will make sure we are adequately staffed and that the patients receive adequate care.”