JEFFERSON, La. -- Leaders at West Jefferson Medical Center were all smiles. The hospital's board of directors voted unanimously to begin negotiations with their first choice in a private partner to lease the hospital.
West Jeff had been pushing for Louisiana Children's Medical Center almost since day one.
"We felt that our mission and the mission of Children's Hospital, they have similar paths and we were very happy," said West Jeff Board Chairman Chip Cahill. "We feel they are very strong financially. I only see our services getting better and I see us expanding what we can do."
Last week, the Jefferson Parish Council voted to allow West Jeff and its sister hospital East Jefferson to go it alone. It was obvious after months of trying, they were not going agree on the same private operator.
Cahill said the deal with Children's Hospital will likely include a 30 to 35 year contract and a lump sum from LCMC in the neighborhood of $200 million.
"I am hoping that the council will ratify on Wednesday and we can start immediately working on a definitive agreement."
East Jefferson is now expected to ask the JP Council for more time. A decision was expected on Tuesday.
EJ Board Chairman Sheriff Newell Normand said they need more time to study a deal now on the table with Ochsner Health System. He also said the fact EJ's attorneys just conflicted out of the negotiations further complicates the process.
"We just didn't want to rush to judgment," said Normand. "I don't think Ochsner would want us to do that, either. We are just going to take a deliberate approach, albeit maybe little slower than what we would desire, but we think it's appropriate."
Normand said his board's first choice, HCA, has not expressed any recent interest in leasing the hospitals.
"We have not had any conversations with them for several weeks now. What I know today is that they're out."
Normand said it will likely take weeks before East Jefferson is in a position to let the council know who it wants as a private partner.
The Jefferson Parish Council is once again expected to take up the hospital partner issue at its regular meeting on Wednesday.