Parish council gets good update from RMC

Published 5:00 pm Wednesday, March 16, 2016

By Jesse Wright

The Daily News

The Washington Parish Council met Monday evening for a routine meeting that included updates hospital leadership at the Riverside Medical Center and from District Attorney Warren Montgomery, who explained the need for a Florida Parish juvenile detention center.

Brent King, chairman of the RMC board of commissioners, told the council that outgoing CEO Dr. Kyle Magee is resigning because he found work elsewhere, and King explained how the board is planning its leadership transition.

Magee announced his resignation March 7.

King said the hospital has advertised in local publications and other specialty publications for a new CEO.

“I know that there are two applicants already that have applied,” said King.

King went on to say that Magee’s last day is April 15.

“When that date gets here, we’ll appoint someone to fill that position as interim CEO. We have people in place we feel like could do that,” he said. He added there has been no one named interim CEO yet.

After King’s discussions on Magee’s replacement, he gave a rosy picture of the hospital’s current operations, pointing out that the hospital’s revenues are up this year, and its services are improving. Of note, King said the hospital has leased new radiology equipment, which makes their department entirely digital, and saves the hospital money.

He said the hospital now offers cardiology services 24/7 and the hospital’s clinics are now “rural health clinics.” This designation helps with reimbursement as it allows the clinics to accept Medicaid patients. In addition, King said Medicaid doesn’t pay for ambulance trips, so rather than subject patients to an ambulance bill of $500 to $700, the hospital is now offering house calls with nurse practitioners.

“We’re able to do that thanks to our rural health status. That’s really helped us,” he said.

King said his board is also talking with representatives at Our Lady of the Angels hospital in Bogalusa to see about cooperating on healthcare coverage.

“So we can have all the healthcare in Washington Parish that we can through a sharing with both hospitals,” King said.

King wrapped up with a review of first-quarter earnings over the past three years, which have been steadily increasing. King said that in 2013, the hospital received $5.4 million in payments and this year, they got $7.8 million.

“We’re very pleased with our progress so far,” he said. “We think that very often with our publicity all we get is the bad things, but we wanted you to be aware that there are some good things as well.”

Later in the meeting, Montgomery argued that Washington Parish officials should support a tax renewal to pay for the juvenile detention center to serve the Florida Parishes. Without it, the district attorney said juveniles who are accused of serious crimes including murder and rape would be out in the community on parole awaiting their trial since, by law, they cannot be housed with adults.

“Under the law, if they can’t be jailed, then they’ll have to be released back into the community,” he said. “That’s a dangerous proposition.”

He said the detention facility will keep the juveniles safe and the public safe.

In addition, Montgomery said about 10 percent of the funding would come from Washington Parish, and the parish would get to house a number of juvenile offenders, though he couldn’t be specific.

“I don’t want to give you any inaccurate numbers, but lets say what you pay into this, you receive disproportionately greater numbers (in return),” he said.

There was no public participation and the remainder of the meeting was spent talking about the flooding over the last weekend.

Public works director Leo Lucchesi said 56 roads were damaged over the weekend, although several had been repaired by the time of the meeting, and repairs are ongoing. Two bridges, on Louisiana Highway 450 and Louisiana Highway 1071, are out. The Louisiana 450 bridge between Highway 10 and Highway 440 is out and the 1071 bridge is out between East Columbia Road and Layton Bluff.

For a complete list of repairs and road conditions, visit the parish’s website at

Lucchesi said the animal shelter project is on hold, as parish employees work to repair roads.

Finally, Levi Lewis asked whether an unnamed beer and liquor store was too close to a church. Pete Thomas said someone from the Alcohol and Tobacco Control office walked the distance between the two establishments, and the state officer concluded they were more than 600 feet apart. By parish law, liquor and beer cannot be sold within 500 feet of a church, and the parish had already approved a renewal on the liquor and beer license.

However, Lucchesi pointed out, when asked, that the state ATC official measured the distance by walking out the front door of the church, all the way to the street and then down the street and then to the front door of the liquor and beer store, rather than by just cutting through the grass.

“Each one is less than 500 feet apart,” he said. “That’s all I can tell you. I don’t know how the ATC got 602 feet. I just don’t know, because you’d have to go out, wander around for a bit, not know where the store is, and then find the store.”

However, attorney Wayne Kuhn suggested that the council should let the church complain to the state and stay out of the whole matter.

“When you get into revoking (a permit) that’s been renewed, you’re opening up yourself to a lawsuit you may not win,” he said.

Finally the council recessed to discuss a special public meeting to review bids for the landfill. The council members agreed to meet Thursday.