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Sen. David Vitter criticizes cancellation of meeting to discuss hospital size

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Written by :  Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune The Times-Picayune 

U.S. Sen. David Vitter continues to lambaste the development of the University Medical Center, questioning a decision to allow a consultant to reconsider some of its financial projections for the planned Charity Hospital successor.

In a letter Thursday to UMC Board Chairman Bobby Yarborough, the senator criticized Yarborough’s decision to cancel a May 5 board meeting at which Kaufman Hall & Associates of Illinois was scheduled to present findings that call the current 424-bed plan excessive, a complaint that Vitter has trumpeted for months. That presentation is now scheduled for June 2.

“It appears that is exactly because of these inconvenient findings that the board meeting and review of the Kaufman Hall report have been postponed,” Vitter wrote.

The Kaufman Hall plan is a key piece in the board’s deliberations on a final business plan that will determine the bed count and the services offered at the hospital that is projected to open in 2015.

“An intense lobbying effort by advocates of the current mega-Charity rebuilding plan is now under way to change the final report,” Vitter said, a reference to Louisiana State University officials submitting a critique of the report.

Among the variables at issue is the number of insured patients that LSU physicians will be able steer to the new teaching hospital. Kaufman Hall’s initial estimate pegs the number at 650-680 annually, about a third of what LSU has previously estimated. That variable is a key part of the state’s plan to make the Charity successor an elite academic medical enterprise, beyond the more simplistic safety-net model of the old hospital and its temporary replacement, Interim LSU Public Hospital.

LSU has drafted a lengthy list of questions, assertions and observations on that and other assumptions that the firm used in calculating its argument for a smaller hospital and projecting a necessity for state general fund support of about $100 million annually. The state already steers significant support to Interim LSU Public Hospital.

Vitter argued that LSU authorities already have “been given a full opportunity to present all relevant facts” since the consulting firm began its work earlier this year. The index of the study shows Kaufman Hall interviewed administrators from LSU, Tulane, Ochsner Health System and East Jefferson General Hospital, among others.

Just as he did in explaining the delay on Wednesday, Yarborough said that Kaufman Hall wants to get the report right. “The current study which is under way by Kaufman Hall will be delivered to our board on June 2nd in the most completed state possible,” he said in an e-mail. “It will be presented in a fashion that reflects their independent view of the best size and scope for the new UMC hospital.

Written by demon53

April 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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