Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
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JEFFERSONPARISH,La. -- In an Eyewitness exclusive follow-up, a group of doctors, administrators, and board members from East Jefferson General Hospital and West Jefferson Medical Center, arrives back in New Orleans Monday, after touring an Austin hospital.

Their visit comes just hours before one of the biggest decisions in Jefferson Parish health care. Eyewitness News has new information on Tuesday's hospital vote.

One of the three management groups hoping to run the Jefferson Parish hospitals is Hospital Corporation of America, which runs Saint David's Hospital in Austin.

The Jefferson Parish delegation wanted to see how HCA runs a similar size community hospital. HCA runs the academic Tulane Medical Center hospital and the smaller Lakeview Regional Medical Center in Covington. HCA is the only for profit company hoping to get the lease to run both East and West Jefferson hospitals.

The other two contenders are non profit, Ochsner and LCMC, Louisiana Children's Medical Center, the group that runs Children's Hospital, Touro, and will run the new University Medical Center now under construction.

But Eyewitness News has learned that while neither hospital board has taken a vote, unofficially two are emerging as the favorites and board members are split.

Sources tell Medical Watch that the 10 West Jefferson Board Members are leaning towards LCMC, because its mission and purpose better complement how they believe a community hospital should be run. Remember, both WJMC and Children's Hospital have LSUHSC faculty members and residents in those facilities.

Despite LCMC's role in the new teaching hospital UMC, there are no LSUHSC doctors on the West Jefferson board who have a vote in this process. Two LSUHSC doctors are on the East Jefferson Board. Faculty doctors' salaries are set by LSU Medical School, not by LCMC as the management system for UMC.

Sources also say the 10 East Jefferson board members are split between LCMC and HCA. Money could be the factor, as HCA proposes to pay a higher price for the lease.

The parish would still own both hospitals, so potential revenues from property taxes are not an issue when choosing between the non profit LCMC and the for profit HCA.

The 20 board members from the two hospitals will meet at 8 a.m. Tuesday and hear one more time from the three hopeful management groups, then deliberations begin in the afternoon. If they come to a decision, the Jefferson Parish Council, which has been privy to the three proposals, will have the final vote on Wednesday.

By combining the hospitals under one management system, the cost of buying supplies and equipment would go down.

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