Members of the St. Mary Parish Hospital Service District No. 2 return from a closed-door session Friday night.
The Daily Review/Bill Decker
Hospital board moves to keep LifePoint at Teche Regional until replacement is found
On a night usually devoted to high school athletics, the St. Mary Hospital Service District No. 2 board played a little hard ball.
The board voted unanimously Friday to give LifePoint Health, which has announced its intention to give up its role as operator of Teche Regional Medical Center, until Nov. 9 to agree to stay in place until the district releases it from its obligations under the current lease. And that appears to mean until the board finds a company to take over Teche Regional’s management.
Without that agreement, the board says it will go to court to stop LifePoint from leaving Teche Regional.
The district’s board and LifePoint had announced together that LifePoint would pull out of its lease, which has another 23 years to run, on Dec. 31.
LifePoint, based in Nashville, Tennessee, was acquired earlier this year by Apollo Global Management. The company also announced it was pulling out of its Louisiana operations.
LifePoint’s relationship with the district has sometimes been contentious. The company won a lawsuit against the district two years ago over who gets to appoint the district’s representative to Teche Regional’s own internal board.
Since LifePoint announced its plan to depart, the district board has begun negotiations with Ochsner Health System, which is based in Jefferson Parish and which operates 11 hospitals and clinics, 10 of them in Louisiana.
The joint announcement of the preliminary agreement between LifePoint and the district board offered assurances that the hospital would remain open and continue offering medical service in any event. Friday’s meeting appeared to be a move to make sure the district keeps that promise while negotiations with Ochsner go on.
After the district board emerged from a closed-door session of more than an hour Friday, member Donald Stephens moved to give LifePoint or PHC Morgan City LLP, the name under which LifePoint has operated Teche Regional, a Nov. 9 deadline to agree to “continue operations at Teche Regional Medical Center and to discharge all its (their) obligations” under the lease.
If LifePoint doesn’t comply, the district will seek to legally enjoin LifePoint from discontinuing hospital operations until released by the district or until the lease expires.
The motion passed 5-0. One seat on the seven-member board remains vacant after the resignation of Natchez “Trey” Morice, a candidate for parish coroner. Member Bill McCarty left late in the executive session discussion.