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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

HARVEY, La. - West Jefferson Medical Center's board chair Chip Cahill says the results of the hospital's yearly audit makes the case for leasing the facility to a private hospital operator.

The hospital board recently got the go-ahead to begin negotiations with LCMC-Health.

'We see a hospital that found a way to increase its revenue, but the expenses still continue to go up and that's why we're going to have to do what we're doing,' said Cahill. 'Stand alone Hospitals just can't make it anymore. You need to be a partnership.'

According to the audit, released Monday by Louisiana's legislative auditor, West Jeff's revenue grew by close to $9 million last year. But, at the same time its operating expenses increased by more than $12 million. That's about $3 million of negative growth.

'One of the reasons for that differential was we acquired the Heart Clinic of Louisiana and it was a very profitable transaction,' said Cahill. 'Had it not been for the Affordable Care Act, it would have been even more profitable if reimbursements for Medicaid and Medicare would have been more.'

Cahill says West Jeff just hired a Washington, DC law firm and picked a team to negotiate with Children's. 'I'm hoping that that this will be done quickly in a period of six months or less,' said Cahill.

Meanwhile, there's an update concerning Jefferson Parish's other public hospital, East Jefferson's search for a private operator. Recently, it's board chair Sheriff Newell Normand asked the parish council to draft a letter of support for HCA, which had previously taken itself out of the running.

Parish Councilman Ben Zahn says the majority of the council supports Normand's request. 'I think the hospital board has done a great job of dealing with what they have which is nothing right now, no suitors,' said Zahn.

'They are actually not leaving a stone unturned. They are pursuing HCA, if the council will give them that letter, they would pursue HCA and I think they would like to pursue other options.' It's unclear if HCA still has any interest in East Jefferson.

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