Heart Hospital to close soon

Published 5:08 am Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Louisiana Heart Hospital (LHH) in Lacombe, and its affiliated medical group, announced plans Tuesday to file for protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code, according to a statement from LHH. The hospital will wind down its operations within the next month, officials announced.

“Despite strong quality rankings and recent volume growth, Louisiana Heart Hospital has faced significant financial challenges in recent years,” said Scott Boudreaux, chief executive officer of Louisiana Heart Hospital and Medical Group. “Like many hospitals around the nation, we struggle to balance shrinking reimbursements with rising operating costs. After many months of careful consideration and review of all available options, it has become clear we can no longer sustain the continued losses and have no choice but to cease operations.

“This is not a decision we take lightly. As we move forward, we will work to ensure a smooth and orderly transition for patients while attempting to minimize the impact for our employees and physicians.”

Although the Lacombe hospital will be closing, the change is not expected to significantly affect the LHH affiliate clinics located throughout the state, including in Bogalusa and Franklinton.

Lynne Black, business development director for LHH, said that the clinics would continue to operate with the same doctors and in the same locations. The only noticeable difference will be they will not be under LHH signage or as part of the LHH Medical Group.

“Nothing is going to change at the (Bogalusa) clinic, except for the fact that those physicians will be managing it independently of the Louisiana Heart Hospital Medical Group,” Black said. “We don’t anticipate any changes. We have lots of locations throughout the state. Every one of those locations with doctors in the clinic will continue to see patients as normal.”

The Lacombe hospital has begun the process of notifying regulators, Emergency Management Services officials and other healthcare providers in the community of its plans. The LHH emergency room will remain open for a time, and staff continues to provide care to hospital patients as operations wind down.

LHH has been in active discussions with potential buyers in recent months. However, no agreement has been reached to date. The hospital and its owners are seeking the bankruptcy court’s approval of a $4.2-million debtor-in-possession loan, which will be used to fund continued payment of accrued employee salaries and benefits during the wind-down period, officials said. The funds are also intended to assist employed physicians in the near term as they transition to independent practice.

“Having recently received CMS 4 Star status, this is most certainly not the outcome any of us or our investors wanted, and we deeply regret the personal impact this decision will have on our patients, employees and physician partners,” Boudreaux said.

Care for current inpatients will not be interrupted, officials said. Patients are encouraged to contact their physician if they have any question about upcoming scheduled procedures.