Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
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East Jefferson General Hospital lost revenue and employees last year according to a new internal audit obtained by WWL-TV.

The independent auditor's report indicates the public hospital had an operating loss of more than $17.5 million in 2013.

It also shows that EJGH's total assets decreased by more than $23 million as compared to the same time period a year ago.

The hospital did cut about $3 million in salaries due to changes in the number of physicians employed by EJGH. The hospital decreased it's full-time workforce by 100 jobs in 2013.

'I think that shows that we absolutely need to get a partner for East Jefferson Hospital,' said Ben Zahn of the JeffersonParish Council.

'This further underscores the need to move forward as part of a larger system so that East Jeff can continue to provide quality care for future generations,' Parish President John Young said.

The challenging financial report comes at a time when East Jefferson and its sister public hospital West Jefferson Medical Center are seeking private partners to lease the hospitals.

West Jefferson is now negotiating with Louisiana Children's Medical Center Health.

East Jefferson has yet to pick a partner after two possible suitors, HCA and Ochsner Health Systems dropped out of the running.

'The audit highlights the increasing concerns about the viability of both public hospitals without becoming part of a larger system,' said Jefferson Parish Councilman At Large Chris Roberts. 'It's is incumbent that we complete the transaction with WJMC and LCMC and more pressing is to establish a plan for EJGH to avoid any scenario which would result in not being compliant with bond covenants.'

The audit also revealed that East Jefferson is struggling to fill its beds, with about 400 fewer total hospital admissions in 2013.

Zahn said that despite the audit report, the hospital is financially secure for at least the next three to four years.

'East Jefferson is still doing what they need to do for patient care,'he said. 'I think that's the bottom line here to actually show the constituents, the residents of Jefferson Parish that we're still providing good health care. But, we do need to get a partner.'

On a positive note, the hospital did grow its outpatient services by more than $6.6 million dollars.

East Jefferson Hospital Board Chairman Newell Normand was not immediately available to comment on the audit's findings.

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