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LSU-OLOL New Transition MOU Announced

LSU Health Clinics will remain open

Earl K. Long Medical Center
Earl K. Long Medical Center

Baton Rouge -- The LSU Board of Supervisors approved on February 1 a plan to transition graduate medical education, or GME, programs; inpatient care; and outpatient clinics from Earl K. Long Medical Center, or EKLMC, in Baton Rouge to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center effective April 15, 2013. Residents in EKLMC GME programs will be now rotating at OLOL, including LSU-NO residents who rotate in Baton Rouge, and the clinics will remain open and continue operating as they do now in order to preserve important health care access for the community.

In the public-private partnership agreement between LSU and OLOL that was established in 2010, all graduate medical education programs and related inpatient care provided at EKLMC were scheduled to transition to Our Lady of the Lake in November 2013. At the February 1 LSU Board of Supervisors meeting, Dr. Frank Opelka, LSU System executive vice president of Health Care and Medical Education Redesign, presented a memorandum of understanding, agreed upon by both organizations, that moves this transition up to April 15. The board unanimously approved the memorandum of understanding.

Dr. Frank Opelka
Dr. Frank Opelka

"While we are accelerating our timeline for this partnership, the staff and administrators of LSU and Our Lady of the Lake have been discussing this transition for some time, giving serious consideration to how we can provide the highest quality of care and the greatest educational experience," Opelka said. "We are in agreement that our plan to move services in April is the best decision for our patients, our residents and the community, and we look forward to this new era of providing health services and medical education in the Baton Rouge area."

Once services are transferred to Our Lady of the Lake, EKLMC, located at 5825 Airline Highway, will close effective April 15. Our Lady of the Lake will assume responsibility for inpatient treatment previously offered at EKLMC and maintain patients' access to hospital care.

The LSU Health clinics will remain open at their current locations, which include the LSU North Baton Rouge Clinic on Airline Highway, Mid City Clinic on South Foster Drive, South Baton Rouge clinic at the Leo Butler Community Center and the LSU Surgical Facility on Perkins Road. Clinics open on the current EKLMC campus today will be transitioned to these existing clinic locations as well as the resident clinics to be located at OLOL within O'Donovan Medical Plaza. This will preserve important health access, as the majority of patients served through LSU Health are treated in the outpatient clinics.

EKL-inpatientcare
The transition of healthcare services and GME to OLOL will occur on April 15.

In addition, urgent care services will operate in temporary space at the North Baton Rouge Clinic Airline Highway site to assure uninterrupted access for urgent care needs once the EKLMC campus closes and before the new Urgent Care Center is complete this summer. Prisoners previously seen at EKLMC will continue to be served by LSU providers throughout the region.

"The LSU clinics and the staff that serve patients in them are an important part of the local health care system, and we will contribute our expertise so that these clinics will stay open and be easily accessible, just as they are today," said Scott Wester, chief executive officer, OLOL. "Our goal is to improve clinic access, which should result in fewer ER visits and hospitalizations for patients. This collaboration aligns with our 90-year mission of ensuring that everyone who needs health care has access."

Between now and April 15, teams from LSU Health, EKLMC and Our Lady of the Lake will work together to prepare for this transition, which includes communication with patients, medical records transfer, patient scheduling and follow up for both procedures and on-going care. In particular, LSU is working with the 834 full time and part-time employees of EKLMC to make them aware of job opportunities with OLOL. OLOL welcomes and encourages all EKLMC clinic and hospital employees to apply for the many open positions that comprise the continuation of health care services, and anticipates hiring a majority of the current EKL employees. LSU will work with the Louisiana Workforce Commission to assist affected EKL employees. Information is available and will be regularly updated at the website www.transitionLSUHealthBR.com

The LSU Health system decided to accelerate this planned transition of services because of Congress's sudden action in July that reduced Louisiana's Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, or FMAP, rate to the lowest it has been in more than 25 years. The FMAP reduction eliminated $126.9 million in State General Funds from the LSU Health System's budget, which amounts to a total reduction of $329.2 million when federal funds that would have been used for match are considered. This funding loss has prompted immediate and significant reform of the State's health care programs

LSU officials in October announced a plan to balance their budget in light of these unexpected FMAP reductions that keeps all hospitals operational and maintains critical services, including the medical home-model clinics that provide much of the care to recipients in the public hospital system today.

The most instrumental part of this plan involved establishing public-private partnerships, like the landmark partnership with Our Lady of the Lake, for other hospitals in the LSU System. In the past two months, state health officials have announced similar partnerships are in development for Interim LSU Hospital and its successor University Medical Center in New Orleans with Louisiana Children's Medical Center; Leonard J. Chabert Hospital in Houma with Ochsner Health System and Terrebonne General Medical Center; University Medical Center in Lafayette with its neighbor, Lafayette General Medical Center; and Walter O. Moss Regional Medical Center in Lake Charles with Lake Charles Memorial Hospital and its partner, West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital.

"This is a great day for health care in Louisiana as we move forward to transform the LSU Health System. This agreement preserves access to high quality health care for those who need it; advances graduate medical education for our medical students and residents; and provides Louisiana tax payers the best value for their tax dollar," said Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein. "I commend Our Lady of the Lake and the LSU Health System for their tireless work as they strive to make this transition a smooth one. This relationship represents the beginning of the LSU Health System transformation, and DHH is proud to be a part of the team as we continue to reform health care in our state."

LSU Health Baton Rouge will transfer its GME programs at EKLMC in emergency medicine and internal medicine to OLOL. It has already transferred its program in obstetrics and gynecology to Woman's Hospital. LSU Health Baton Rouge also offers a joint psychiatry residency program with OLOL. LSU Health Baton Rouge has a total of 107 residents in these programs.

Nearly 70 residents from LSU Health New Orleans also rotate through LSU Health Baton Rouge. They are residents in dermatology, general dentistry, ophthalmology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthopedics, ear, nose and throat, medicine/dermatology, psychiatry, plastic surgery, vascular surgery, general surgery, emergency medicine, internal medicine, anesthesia, and physical medicine and rehabilitation. With the transfer of LSU GME, these residents will rotate at OLOL.