Nikki Buskey / The Houma Courier

HOUMA, La. Ochsner Health System will assume management of the state charity hospital in Houma on Monday, ending a process that started in December, officials said.

Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center CEO Rhonda Green, who has run the hospital for six years, is leaving to take a job with the LSU Health System, said Michael Hulefeld, executive vice president and chief operation officer of the Ochsner system.

Ochsner St. Anne General Hospital Chief Operating Officer Ritchie Dupre will take over as Chabert administrator, Hulefeld said.

Ochsner is partnering with Terrebonne General Medical Center and the state to assume management of the charity hospital.

The public-private partnership is one of many the state has initiated in the last year to avert layoffs and devastating cuts to services in the state's charity hospital system in the wake of state and federal budget cuts.

The Houma hospital has traditionally served many of the Houma-Thibodaux area's poorest residents as well as others who lack health insurance. The state will provide some money to assist in paying for such care, but Hulefeld couldn't say how much.

All of Chabert's employees will technically be laid off, though most are expected to be rehired by Ochsner to work at their current positions at Chabert Medical Center, officials said.

The state Civil Service Board approved the layoffs earlier this month, with pink slips set to go out Sunday. Of Chabert's 806 employees, 563 are classified under civil service.

Hulefeld said that the hospital has been working for the past few months to rehire as much of the original staff as possible. Teams from every clinical discipline have been working with the leadership at Chabert with oversight from Terrebonne General Medical Center to ensure that come Monday, there's 'no blip in patient service' as Ochsner takes the reins, Hulefeld said.

'The state is processing the layoffs and we have our sights set on trying to hire 99 percent of the state that meets qualifications,' Hulefeld said. 'Our commitment is to maintain the services that are being provided.'

Hulefeld added that the academic mission and the charity mission of Chabert will not change under Ochsner. Ochsner Health System is a nonprofit hospital that is committed to the underserved and indigent patient population in the region. The LSU system will also continue to work with the hospital to run its medical residency program.

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