JP's new inspector general takes on hospital lease negotiations


Posted on August 21, 2013 at 6:23 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 22 at 5:54 AM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @taniadall

JEFFERSON, La. -- Jefferson Parish's first-ever inspector general is still setting up shop, and now he is taking on the public hospital lease negotiations.

The deal is being called one of the most important in Jefferson Parish government history.

With three potential suitors, who will take over East and West Jefferson Hospitals remains up in the air. However, on Wednesday night, fighting words came out of Inspector General David McClintock's mouth targeting the hospital negotiation lease process.

"Here you have a project that is large, complex. Something that we don't do everyday. Sometimes government isn't good at things we don't do every day," said McClintock.

In March, he was handed the baton after voters approved the much-needed checks and balances Office of Inspector General.

Since then, McClintock said he's been working behind the scenes to open up a new office at the Jefferson Business Center.

On Wednesday night inside the JP Parish Council Chambers, McClintock announced his first hires: Kim Raines Chatelain will be the first assistant inspector general and Brian Smith will be deputy inspector general.

"We have computers coming, we have staff coming, we have space," said McClintock.

The inspector general says his first order of business is carefully watching the privatization lease deal for both East and West Jefferson Parish Hospitals.

The contenders: Ochsner, Hospital Corporation of America and Louisiana Children's Medical Center.

"Make sure as it moves forward that we have the proper accountability from the parish's perspective," said McClintock of his office's role.

"Probably one of the most important decisions that will be made while we're here," said Jefferson Parish President John Young, who confirms he approached the inspector general. Young hopes the Office of Inspector General will garner more transparency in the hospital negotiation process.

"It certainly doesn't hurt to have another set of eyes looking at these documents, looking at these agreements [so that] everything is done to protect the interests of the citizens of Jefferson Parish," Young said.

In response to the inspector general's announcement on Wednesday, Ochsner issued this statement:

"Ochsner Health System has not been officially alerted to the Inspector General’s decision to get involved in the Jefferson Parish hospital management negotiations. We welcome the opportunity to participate in a clear and transparent selection process."

The Jefferson Parish Council will have the final say on whether to lease the hospitals and to which private medical group. Sources tell Eyewitness News a special meeting is expected soon.