RMC, OLA leadership meet to plan for cuts

Published 6:49 am Wednesday, May 11, 2016

While it’s not clear yet how much — if any — state funding Our Lady of the Angels Hospital will lose, hospital leadership there and at Riverside Medical Center in Franklinton are already planning for cuts.

In the next fiscal year, the state faces a near $2-billion revenue shortfall, and Gov. John Bel Edwards has said some of the savings will come in cuts to hospital funding, including funding to Our Lady of the Angels. Lawmakers will tackle that problem after the current legislative session wraps up June 6.

To prepare for those cuts, Our Lady CEO Rene Ragas met Thursday with Riverside Medical Center’s board of commissioners to figure out how the two healthcare providers could combine services and save money.

“We’re still trying to see what we can do as far as what alignments can be made,” said Brent King, chairman of the RMC board.

King said the two hospitals haven’t come up with any firm plans yet and he wasn’t ready to say much publicly, but he did assure residents he wants what’s best for everyone.

“It’s nothing concrete,” he said. “It’s just … we’re looking at what’s the best option for Riverside at this juncture as well as Our Lady of the Angels.”

To date, state lawmakers and the governor haven’t publicly released any specific plans to make up the $1.9 billion revenue shortfall either through tax hikes or budget costs. By law, lawmakers can only tackle budget issues every other year. So, this year, state representatives and senators can’t work on the budget and that is why there will likely be a special session following the regular session.

King said he also has not heard any concrete plans to make up the deficit yet.

“No, we’re hearing the same things that you all are,” he said. “It seems like our local legislators seem confident that there won’t be any hospital closures, so that’s a good thing.”

At present, the RMC board is also searching for new leadership, since former CEO Dr. Kyle Magee stepped down. However, King said interim CEO Lesia McQueen is doing a good job leading the hospital, so there is no pressure to make any sudden moves.

“We don’t feel any pressure, so we can take our time and make the right decisions,” he said.