Council responds to clinic critics

Published 9:19 am Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Members of the Washington Parish Council didn’t take kindly to an advertisement that appeared in the Oct. 7 edition of a local newspaper.

The ad had a photo of the recently closed Family Medical Clinic, which was owned by St. Tammany Parish Hospital. Family Medical Clinic was at the heart of a protracted feud with nearby Riverside Medical Center over a number of issues, including revenue generated by the clinic that appeared to be one of the main sticking points.

The parish council was often placed in the middle of the battle. The ad was paid for a group calling itself Concerned Citizens of Family Medical Clinic, and requested readers to ask parish council members why the clinic closed. The agreement was set to expire on Oct. 27.

District 7 Councilman Aubrey Posey was not pleased when he brought up the subject.

“There are some lies going around in the community. I prefer to call them half-truths,” Posey said. “This parish council has no intention of destroying the hospital, as is being told. Our responsibility is to appoint board members.

“The other thing is somebody asked me why the building has a ‘for sale’ sign on the building. I don’t know. I do have emails from the St. Tammany attorney as to why negotiations were stopped.

“Doctors are leaving because of actions of the St. Tammany Board. I think this board went well beyond where we needed to go,” Posey said, referring to the council. “We wanted the hospital to stay in existence and thrive. My dad taught us all we had was our name. Lying is not in my character.”

District 1 Councilman Ken Wheat also responded.

“This parish government is the only mature group among the hospital and doctors,” Wheat said. “It boils down to two immature parties who could not sit down together and they had to blame somebody. The scapegoat is the third party, and that is us.

“Insinuation is another act of immaturity. I resent using this parish government as a scapegoat. They need to grow up if they’re saying anything bad about any of these council members.”

The council also heard a presentation from Blessed Be On Measure Inc. President Presious Johnson, regarding programs to assist homeowners acquire funds to repair their homes.

Johnson spoke about the 504 Rural Housing Loan and Grant and 502 Home Loan Program.

“The 504 Rural Housing Loan and Grant has up to $7,500 available for homeowners age 62 and older to help with repairing their homes for safety and/or handicap accessible purposes,” Johnson said. “Loans up to $20,000 at 1 percent interest are possible if requirements are met.”

Johnson said the 502 Home Loan Program is for low-income individuals who want to buy or construct a new home or manufactured home at low interest up to $200,000.

For more information, call Johnson at 985-516-0429.

Concerning agenda items, the council:

  Adopted a resolution concerning an oil and gas lease on 0.4 of an acre on two lots in Angie.

  Adopted a resolution establishing load limits on bridges within the Off-System Bridge Program. Load limits depend on the road and how strong the structures are. Rating could go down or up depending on the integrity of the structure.

• Adopted the annual certification of compliance with the state’s Off-System Bridge Replacement Program.

• Introduced an ordinance to abandon and remove from inventory 0.25 miles of Burt Road, because it no longer serves a public need.