Parish council meets new Riverside CEO

Published 9:08 am Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Washington Parish Council got to meet the new Riverside Medical Center CEO at their Monday evening meeting.

Last week, Bogalusa’s Our Lady of the Angels announced it had formally signed a deal to take over management of the Franklinton hospital and as part of that agreement, they installed Peter Sullivan as head of Riverside. Sullivam has 30 years of healthcare management experience and he will officially begin duties on Monday.

For his part, Sullivan said he was happy to be part of the community. Sullivan said he had been in charge of a trauma center and he hopes Franklinton will be a bit slower pace.

“I’m on the far side of my career and I’m at a point where I need to do something a little different and this is a wonderful opportunity to add CEO to me, professionally,” he said.

He also said he didn’t expect the community to notice any big changes, but he said he believes he can bring some improvements to the hospital.

“I think we have an opportunity to approach things with a new focus and not upset the applecart to much,” he said.

Councilman Reginald McMasters asked the to see Riverside’s financial statements prior to Sullivan taking over so the council can keep track of his progress as the new leader.

“What I would like to see is ask to see the board of commissioners at the hospital to supply us with the financial statement of the hospital before you take over as CEO and that way we can see the progress I believe you will make,” he said.

Brent King, the chairman of Riverside’s board of commissioners, was in the audience and he said the hospital’s monthly financial report is online and it is updated each month following board meetings, but he would also provide the parish council with something as well.

Besides that, the meeting was largely routine. The council adopted a resolution that could allow the Bogue Lusa Waterworks District to refinance some of its debt. The state would have to approve the move and the district would have to find someone willing to refinance, but Jim Ryan, the financial advisor for the parish, said if everything works out, the district could save 20,000 each year for the remaining 23 years they have left on the bonds.

Following that, the council was next expected to appoint Russell Knight to fill a vacancy on the Washington Parish Hospital Service District No. 1 Board of Commissioners from Ward Three.

However, Knight retracted his name from consideration and so that didn’t happen.

After that, Frankie Crosby addressed the council. Crosby alerted the council that the 15th annual Punt, Pass and Kick competition for boys and girls ages 6 to 15. That will be held on Sept. 11 at 3 p.m. at Franklinton High School.

Crosby is also running for the Franklinton town board of alderman, and he asked for the vote of residents.

After the agenda items had been taken care of, Ned Thomas delivered the president of parish’s report. He said the parish is still under an emergency order following the flooding from a week ago. He said this order was the 15th he’s signed in his eight years as parish president, and said the Bogue Chitto River crested at just over 20 feet.

He also added that three parish citizens had to flee to a Red Cross shelter following the Aug. 13 flooding, and DSNAP benefits—Disaster SNAP—would be available. However, he said he didn’t know when that would be, and it could only be available to certain zip codes.

“That’s all left up to the state and federal government,” he said.

Residents who already receive SNAP benefits will get DSNAP benefits automatically if they qualify, whereas others will have to apply.

Following that, Donna Graham gave the financial report, and she said for the most part the parish looks good.

However, she said the criminal justice fund is down.

According to Graham’s report, it’s down by about $61,344 and it is down because sales tax is down overall.

“It’s funded by the 1-cent sales tax that began a couple of years ago and sales taxes are down all over the parish,” she said.

However, overall the parish’s fund balance is nearly $11 million.

“Our general fund budget is looking very good at this point,” she said, adding that it is almost time to begin planning next year’s budget.

After that, Leo Lucchesi, the director of public works, said he will begin discussing animal shelter ordinances soon at committee meetings.

“I know the goal is to have a policy and I know one way to help is to bring in volunteers to help out,” he said.

He also said the parish could qualify for grants to spray for mosquitos as a result of the threat of Zika. The spraying would be aerial, and the parish would have to contribute 25 percent of the costs.

Thomas then handed out health packets related to Zika. He said the information was from Homeland Security.

The parish council got an update on roads and bridges, and all but two roads are open after the Aug. 13 flooding.

Finally, Lucchesi said the landfill is just about set to begin using the new cell, and the old cell still has enough life left in it so the parish should not be in a bind.

The next parish meeting will be Sept. 12 at 6 p.m.