JEFFERSON, La. -- The Jefferson Parish Council is preparing to jump into ongoing discussions about the future of East Jefferson Hospital and West Jefferson Medical Center.
Council members voted to discuss the matter during a special meeting on Thursday.
The vote came just as Ochsner Medical Center's Community Director Bill Oliver got up to speak during the public comment portion of Wednesday's meeting.
"I'm assuming that item 78 is still on the agenda," said Oliver.
JP Council Chairman Chris Roberts responded, "Actually, it's going to be canceled."
Louisiana Children's Medical Center, HCA and Ochsner submitted proposals to manage the public hospitals. Each of them will now get 30 minutes to make their pitch to the JP Council during a special meeting Thursday morning. Both hospitals' 10 member boards and hospital consultant Kaufman Hall will also speak with council members.
JP Council Chairman Chris Roberts said those discussions will be made open to the public.
"Our intentions were to go to the council and to try and get a better understanding of framing the issue for future deliberations amongst the two boards to see where we're going to be," said Newell Normand, the Jefferson Parish sheriff and chairman of the East Jefferson Board of Directors.
While all three suitors are offering hundreds of millions of dollars in lease payments, Normand said that is not the only criteria by which their proposals will be judged.
"They are very complex in nature. They have many moving parts to them. We will begin to try and digest exactly where we are."
Ochsner promises to create 500 new jobs, generating $300 million in new tax revenue.
"We've committed to keeping our headquarters here," said Oliver. "It's already here. It's kind of a natural thing. We're the home team. We're located on Jefferson Highway. We also have other hospitals in the area, several of them in Jefferson Parish."
The JP Council is not expected to cast any votes during Thursday's special meeting.
The other two suitors released statements concerning their qualifications to run the Jefferson public hospitals. Rob Dye from HCA stated, "This is a very important decision for the community, and we believe through this process we have demonstrated to the boards why our vast experience, superior quality and access to resources, in addition to our superior financial commitment, would make us the best choice."
Brian Landry from Children's said, "LCMC and Children's Hospital have been a long-standing and trusted part of the greater New Orleans community, and our proposal made to East Jefferson and West Jefferson recognizes and assures that they remain strong, long-standing, thriving and a trusted part of Jefferson Parish and the Gulf Coast region."