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

NEW ORLEANS -- State health officials outlined on Monday how public hospitals will run in Louisiana.

The Louisiana Children's Medical Center, the non-profit parent corporation that runs Children's Hospital and Touro, will operate University Hospital and the new UMC under construction and scheduled to open in Spring 2015.

State officials say this new public-private partnership could save jobs and grow services.

'Today is a rather historic day and it's the culmination of a lot of hard work,' said Bruce Greenstein, the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

He led the group of legislators, doctors and faculty from LSUHSC and Tulane Medical School in laying out the new way health care will be delivered and taught in the state.

Fewer dollars from Washington D.C. means getting creative.

'When we think about our state's operations and our state's finances, we know that we have undertaken many services that we are not able to sustain over time and the way that we deliver safety net care and services in our state. We've known for quite some time it is not sustainable,' Greenstein told the audience of LSU faculty doctors from the podium.

Those engineering the public private partnership say jobs can be saved.

'This relationship is giving us the opportunity to avoid some drastic layoffs and reductions in services at the Interim Hospital (University). We will not go through with the reduction of the 130 to 150 employees. We're not going to close the 146 some odd med-surg beds. We're not going to reduce the capability in the Level I Trauma Center. We're not going to close beds in the intensive care units,' said Steve Worley, the CEO of Louisiana Children's Medical Center.

'Many of you, who have been here for a period of time, recall when Charity Hospital had 1500 beds. Today we're to 200 because of the financial exigencies that have occurred over time. This is the beginning of the reversal of that process. This partnership will stabilize the institution financially. It will allow expansion of services, not continued contraction,' said Dr. Larry Hollier, LSUHSC chancellor.

'The Interim LSU Hospital and the University Medical Center will continue to serve as this safety net hospital in New Orleans for the people who are uninsured and the high-risk Medicaid recipients will continue to have access at this location,' said Dr. Frank Opelka, CEO of the LSU Healthcare Network.

There will be a much needed infusion of funds.

'The partner hospitals will lease the public hospital's property, which has been operated by LSU, including both hospitals themselves and their affiliated networks of outpatient clinics,' said Dr. Opelka.

Doctors who teach the future medical workforce hope this will keep the medical school enrollment up and residency program strong.

'This partnership preserves the patient services and graduate medical education programs in place at the Interim LSU Hospital and the University Medical Center,' Dr. Opelka added.

While access to care could expand, Greenstein said there could be future layoffs depending on administrative needs.

LSU medical staff will still be employed by LSU, but hospital employees will likely have to go through a job fair and be rehired by the new parent company with new benefits. Civil Service employee laws will be followed.

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