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Meg Farris / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS After months of negotiations between Ochsner, Tulane University Medical Center and its hospital partner HCA, talk of a merger between the two hospitals is now on hold, sources said.

As Eyewitness News first reported on Sept. 15, there had been intense discussion of the deal which would have involved merging Tulane's hospitals into the Ochsner health care system, the largest in the metro area.

Sources said that while the talks were off for now, it is unclear whether, in a changing health care market, the idea could be revived in the future.

Employees at both Tulane and Ochsner had been receiving word of a possible merger for the past several weeks. When contacted this week for comment, none of the parties involved would discuss the apparent breakdown in negotiations.

The Nashville-based Hospital Corporation of America, or HCA, owns 82.5 percent of two of Tulane's local hospitals, the large downtown Tulane Medical Center and Tulane-Lakeside Hospital in Metairie. Lakeview Regional Medical Center in Covington is owned 100 percent by HCA.

The remaining 17.5 percent of the hospital system is owned by Tulane. In recent weeks, a spokesperson for HCA told WWL that when it was time for a decision 'governance is 50/50, and we would never make a decision without our partner.'

Earlier, Tulane and Ochsner officials each said they do explore health care partnerships.

A Tulane statement from Sept. 15 said 'in the age of healthcare reform and a changing marketplace, such discussions are common.'

Tulane added that its conversations with potential partners had been ongoing for years and were only 'at the fact-finding stage.'

Ochsner management said it would not comment on hypothetical business arrangements' but that it 'regularly evaluates partnerships and collaborations' as it looks at costs, patient outcomes and the overall health care system.'

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