Doctors ask jurors about health funds

“We want to work with you,” a group of doctors and board members associated with American Legion Hospital told four police jurors in an informal session they requested to discuss possible funding of an emergency trauma center before Tuesday night’s Police Jury meeting.

The physicians expressed a desire to enter into a joint venture.

Board members Andy Barousse and Steve Stefanski spoke in unison about efforts to cement a joint venture, even to the point where the hospital might lease or sell property to the Police Jury.

Police Juror John Quebodeaux, however, pointed out the underlying obstacle ––”Is it legal?,” he asked.

Jurors and hospital officials have asked for an attorney general’s legal opinion regarding a cooperative effort, but have yet to receive a response. 

Stefanski indicated he would try to speed up the issuing of a legal opinion.

The second stumbling block is where to find funds for an emergency center.

Jury Secretary-Treasurer Terry Lacombe admitted he wasn’t aware of any possible funding sources.

The Jury is currently applying for $800,000 in Community Development Block Grants to build a new parish community center.

However, those public funds can only be used for publicly operated facilities, explained Lee Hebert, parish emergency preparedness director, who said he already had investigated funding options. 

Hebert reiterated that public funds couldn’t be used to build an emergency center, even though the Crowley hospital is a non-profit operation. 

Juror Quebodeaux also commented, “We don’t know of any funds out there.”

Andy Barousse indicated that he has consulted with the administrator of Abbeville General Hospital, who told him there were potential funding sources.

The Abbeville hospital is currently working with the Vermilion Parish  Police Jury in the construction of a new wing. However, it was pointed out the hospital is located in a hospital service district and, therefore, eligible for public funding.

At one point, Juror Alton Stevenson remarked, “It will be political suicide, if we don’t do something for the people of the parish.”

Jurors appeared willing to investigate all options to establish a cooperative endeavor. Juror Quebodeaux said, “If it’s legal, there’s no problem.”

Juror A.J. “Fatty” Broussard even mentioned the possibility of the hospital donating land to the Police Jury and the Jury then leasing an emergency care facility to the hospital for one a dollar a year.

Stefanski remarked, “Let us talk about something that could be put up next to the hospital that the Jury owned.”

Barousse even suggested a cooperative effort with the parish’s municipalities as another option.

Even Stefanski acknowledged the Police Jury has to focus first on a new public health unit. “Perhaps, we can’t move ahead with anything else now.”

It was finally agreed the attorney general will be asked to address the issue of a cooperative effort between a public body and a private entity, while, at the same time, jurors and hospital officials will explore funding options with the administrator of Abbeville General Hospital.

Jurors and hospital officials appeared committed to exploring further efforts.

Acadia Parish Today

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