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Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: mhernandez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl

GRETNA, La. -- The first of two public meetings on the future of the Jefferson Parish public hospital system is underway.

It's a chance for the public to weigh in on one of the most important decisions the Jefferson Parish Council could ever make.

Dozens of people are inside the building hoping to make their voices heard in the debate over who should run the parish's two public hospitals.

All three finalists vying to lease the hospitals will make short presentations at the start of the meeting.

Those finalists are Hospital Corporation of America, Children's Medical Center and Ochsner Health System.

It's been highly publicized that the two public hospitals, East and West Jefferson, are split on which group they prefer. Now, it's up to the council to decide.

Each finalist will answer three questions from the public, selected by a moderator. Then citizens will have the chance to speak out.

Council members say a recent inspector general report calling for more public input prompted them to hold these meetings.

The meeting runs until 8 p.m. Monday. A second meeting will be held at the Yenni Building on the east bank next Tuesday.

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