SE La. Hospital to be run by Florida company
Florida-based health care company assumes operation of SE Louisiana Hospital near Mandeville
COVINGTON, La. (AP) — A Florida-based health care company is assuming operation of Southeast Louisiana Hospital near Mandeville.
In November, the state Department of Health and Hospitals selected Meridian Behavioral Health Service of Gainesville as its favorite to take over SELH.
With the private company part of the equation, St. Tammany Parish government and DHH have been working on cooperative endeavor agreements with Meridian with the goal of keeping psychiatric beds on the hospital's campus.
On Monday, The Times-Picayune reports DHH Secretary Bruce Greenstein, St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister, Meridian Behavioral Healthcare CEO Wesley Mason and other state and local officials met at the St. Tammany Parish Council chambers to sign the agreement.
Under the plan, the state gives St. Tammany Parish the authority to manage all property at Southeast and has signed an agreement for Meridian to operate 58 psychiatric inpatient beds: 42 for youths and 16 for adults. A separate agreement between the parish and Meridian allows the health care company to operate the 58 beds on the Southeast campus.
The agreements also allow the current outpatient and group home services providers on the campus to remain in place.
Meridian will give hiring preferences to current Southeast employees where comparable jobs are available.
Catching many local officials by surprise, DHH announced in July that it would close the hospital, which had 94 in-patient beds earlier this year. DHH officials believe the closure will save $1.6 million this fiscal year and $3.5 million in subsequent years as the state struggles to cope with reductions in federal money for Medicare.
The state health department says it wants to ensure a sustainable behavioral care system for the future by de-emphasizing the role of large public institutions and instead building partnerships with community providers.
The shuttering of the hospital unleashed a wave of opposition from employees, families of patients and others who dreaded the loss of mental health facilities in the region. The immediate formation of the Committee to Save Southeast Louisiana Hospital helped stoke the issue by holding public rallies at the hospital and at the business offices of local legislators.
The group lobbied unsuccessfully for a special session of the Legislature to address significant budget cuts made by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration to the state's health care system. Committee members have said privatizing the hospital is better than shutting it down, but they would prefer that it remain a public institution.
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