Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
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MARRERO, La. - The Jefferson Parish Council is now expected to make the final decision on a private partner to run the parish's two public hospitals.

The management boards for East Jefferson Hospital and West Jefferson Medical Center asked the council to make the pick after a series of failed votes Monday morning.

The 10-member boards have been studying proposals from suitors for months and meeting behind closed doors to choose a partner for weeks.

Both board chairmen now admit the panels are hopelessly deadlocked.

'We did not reach consensus that one is substantially stronger than the other,' said East Jefferson Chair Newell Normand.

'Although I'm disappointed that we didn't come to a decision, we weren't here fighting,' said West Jefferson Chairman Chip Cahill. 'We weren't in here arguing. We respectfully disagreed.'

Cahill said his hospital liked the community feel of Louisiana Children's Medical Center's proposal.

'I know the people of the West Bank love West Jefferson, and I see it staying the West Jefferson it is, with Children's.'

Normand says HCA offered the best financial package.

'When we look at the quality scores, we see that the HCA national scores, as well as local scores, are as good and in many cases better than our two respective hospitals and better than our suitors.'

Neither board chose the third suitor, Ochsner Medical Center.

As the JP Council prepares to pick a hospital partner, the two at-large councilmen are pushing for Children's.

'I think they've done a tremendous job with Touro in the few years they've been running that facility,' said JP Council Chairman Chris Roberts. 'Medical staff on both sides of the river have both stated that Children's is acceptable to them.'

Roberts also says his decision is not based on upon partnering with the highest bidder.

'Rather, this provides the best solution to keep our public hospitals under the governance of a deep rooted community based organization that remains obligated to the needs of our residents, said Roberts.

At least two members of the Jefferson Parish Council are now pushing for more time to study all three hospital proposals. But Roberts says a vote will likely take place on Thursday.

If council members choose a hospital partner, two more steps are needed before the private operator takes over.

The council would have to negotiate a final agreement with the operator.

The partnership would then require regulatory approval.

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