JEFFERSON, La. -- East Jefferson General Hospital is regrouping after another potential private partner withdrew from consideration.
Ochsner Health System was thought to be the top contender when HCA dropped out in February. Monday, Ochsner passed on the opportunity as well.
Ochsner CEO Warner Thomas released a statement saying, "As we consider strategic opportunities, our goal is to work with those who are fully aligned on key criteria including strategy, cultural fit, and commitment to a common vision. Despite the dedicated efforts of all parties involved, we have determined that this alignment simply does not exist. We remain focused on serving our patients in our communities with the highest quality of care and Ochsner is committed to our region's future as a healthcare destination."
East Jefferson Board Chairman Newell Normand agreed.
"There were going to be some FTC issues," Normand said. "Obviously Ochsner is a big system. There were going to be some physician alignment issues for us. These are not easy deals to get done. There's a lot of anti-trust concerns."
Wednesday, officials from both East Jefferson and its sister hospital West Jefferson Medical Center were supposed to appear before the parish council to declare their choice in a private partner. West Jeff got permission to begin negotiations with LCMC Health.
Spokesman Brian Landry said Children's remains in the mix for East Jefferson as well.
"We're today looking forward to working with West Jefferson, and over time, we'll see how that may or may not involve East Jefferson," said Landry.
Normand asked the Jefferson Parish Council for more time to find a suitable partner.
"This is another curve ball, obviously, another delay," said Normand. "We will continue to do what we need to do internally to put ourselves in the best to succeed. East Jefferson General Hospital is not in a panic mode. We have been very deliberate in this process all along."
But, Jefferson Parish Council Chairman Elton Lagasse said he is disappointed that East Jefferson appears to be back to square one.
"My concern is that we don't know how long this will take," said Lagasse. "You reopen this up, have somebody study them, I mean East Jefferson is struggling financially right now. That's the reason we are where we are."
Normand said that two other national healthcare systems have expressed some level of interest in leasing East Jefferson. He did not specify the names of those companies.
Normand also said EJ is hiring the parish's hospital consultant, Josh Nemzoff, to help find a private partner to lease the hospital.