More cuts to LSU health care system expected

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wwltv.com

Posted on September 13, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 13 at 7:11 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEW ORLEANS -- The LSU Board of Supervisors was told to be prepared for more cuts on Sept. 7 to the public health care and hospital system across the state.

Here's an exclusive look at just how many people could be affected and what it will mean to you.  

Medical Watch has learned that major cuts are planned for the Interim LSU Public Hospital (ILH), better known as University Hospital.

Several sources have confirmed that the number being considered by the state is 600 to 700 people at the hospital, bringing the hospital down to 110 beds from 172, and keeping the 29 beds at DePaul Hospital Uptown. Right now there are 201 total beds in both hospitals.

Those who could be cut include everyone from administration support to nurses to doctors who are teaching faculty members. There are currently 2,173 employees there now who survived the last round of budget cuts a few months ago.

Here are questions and concerns from medical and health care experts in the LSU system.

First, how will this impact the patient? Right now the beds there are full. The number of beds keeps coming down, but the number of sick people is not. Some people speculate there could be long waits in the E.R., that patients will spill over into private hospitals and that there will be trouble scheduling elective surgery.

Next, some speculate with fewer clinical doctors, there will not be as many doctors available to see patients for exams in the clinics. And will some clinics be cut?

And finally, since all of the LSU medical and allied health schools teach the future doctors, nurses, technicians, dentists, physical therapists and more, and the faculty doctors also train residents in the hospitals, will future medical students and graduates doing their residencies want to come here to train?

Will private hospitals that take over the residency programs be accredited? Will the doctors there, who are not faculty, be able to take time away from their private practice patients to train residents on rounds and give them the number of hours they need in surgery, for example? This will cause faculty doctors remaining at University to have more residents to train.

And, will this allow for a big enough patient base for clinical trials and research? Also, what about liability for the young doctors' working in private hospitals?

So why is this happening? Sources say state leadership wants to move away from the hospital business, privatizing more services and education, resulting in fewer state employees.

State officials, including the governor, have long said it is because of major cuts in federal health care reimbursement, driving them to form partnerships.

Top state health care officials are meeting now with hospital administrators around the state. Some cuts at other LSU hospitals around the state will happen in mid-October, but nothing is scheduled yet for University Hospital.

LSU Health-Marvin McGraw, the director of communications, issued the following response:

"In response to the FMAP reductions and because of the extensive use of one-time funds in the response to this fiscal year’s budget cuts to LSU Health, HCSD is working through several scenarios to identify opportunities to further reduce spending for this fiscal year. Multiple scenarios have being developed for each HCSD hospital, including ILH, though none have been approved and no decisions have been made. In each of the scenarios, we are looking to maintain patient services and continue our historic support for Graduate Medical Education. In addition, we continue to explore partnerships that could help mitigate any reductions in service. Specifically, no decisions have been made, other than the plan submitted to and approved by the LSU Board of Supervisors in July."

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