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Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

INDEPENDENCE, La. -- A call for a legislative-ordered special session on health care cuts is the cry coming from Tangipahoa tonight.

Hundreds turned out to express their concerns about, and hear solutions to, an almost 35 percent budget reduction at Lallie Kemp Hospital in Independence.

The drop in dollars is shutting down surgery, the ICU and crippling oncology, among other things.

Both employees and patients are up in arms about it.

'I said when I went to Lallie Kemp that they'd have to drag me away kicking and screaming, so I'm prepared to stay there until they tell me I have to leave,' said ICU Nurse Cole Bailey.

'If somebody told me right now, if you could go anywhere and we'll pay for it, I would want to go to Lallie Kemp,' said lymphoma patient Lloyd Trosclair, 'Might seem crazy, but my experience has been good there and it's humbled me.'

The group that packed the Tangipahoa Parish Council Chambers Thursday night were there to hear about efforts to lessen the $14 million blow to the hospital.

That information was supposed to come from Dr. Fred Cerise with LSU Hospitals, but when he didn't show because of a reported schedule conflict, everyone took offense.

Local legislators said they believe it's because the administration's 'real plan is to turn the lights off at Lallie Kemp.'

'How do you tell someone that's so vulnerable, that's on chemotherapy, that's on the brink of death, that you don't know?' said Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa.

$5 million from various sources has been identified to keep some services in-tact, like the ICU and disease clinic.

But those are maybes for now, something the hospital homes becomes some sort of saving grace soon.

'I know that our LSU leaders are working hard, as well as our legislative delegation. They're working hard to help us find the money,' said Lallie Kemp Administrator Sheree Pack-Hookfin.

The cuts stem from federal Medicaid reductions. Any solutions found will have to be approved by the LSU Board of Supervisors.

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