Lafayette General - UMC merger plans explained

RAYNE - What will happen? What will be the impact? Why will it happen?

Those were the questions concerning the June 24 merger of Lafayette General Hospital and University Medical Center that Paul Molbert, LGH vice president of network development, tried to answer when he addressed members of the Rotary Club of Rayne Thursday morning.

“In a nutshell, beginning at one second after midnight on June 24, Lafayete General Hospital will be leasing and managing University Medical Center,” Molbert said.

UMC will, at that time, become known as University Hospital and Clinics.

Molbert said the scope of services currently offered by UMC will not change — except for the better.

“All of the existing services will remain,” he said. “Plus, we’ll be bringing back orthopedic services.”

He said UMC currently has two operating rooms. Two will be added with the merger.

UMC now has two ICU beds. That number will be increased to 10 with a fully-staffed emergency room with the merger.

With the 56 in-patient beds, the facility will have a 66-bed capability.

“Our ultimate goal is that patients at UHC will experience the same care as patients at Lafayette General,” he said.

Had the merger not taken place, UMC would have continued to operate, only in a much reduced capacity, according to Molbert.

“It would have been reduced to 10 in-patient beds and there probably would have been massive layoffs,” he said.

Molbert added that, with the reduction in services, the facility probably would no longer have been used as a training facility for medical interns.

He said UMC now has 64 residents in training. Beginning July 1, Lafayette General also will become a “major teaching hospital,” which should significantly increase the number of medical graduate students interning in the area.

The transition to a major teaching hospital will translate to increased Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements for the hospital and more revenue in general, he said. That increased revenue — “profit” — will more than cover the expected $12 million-a-year “loss” expected at UHC, which will continue to treat the uninsured and under-insured.

Molbert pointed out that, until the June 24 merger, UHC has no employees. However, “we have already hired 433 people to staff the facility — and 361 of those were existing employees from UMC.”

He added that a number of the remaining employees were eligible for and are taking retirement.

Budget cuts to the LSU safety-net hospitals have forced the state to down-size their operations and seek these public-private partnerships with community providers to help preserve care to the state’s uninsured.

Molbert also touched on the recent “clinical affiliation” LGH entered into with American Legion Hospital in Crowley.

“First we’re going into cancer treatment, but we’re looking to expand into other areas,” he said.

He added that LGH has similar affiliations with a number of hospitals throughout Acadiana.

“The idea there is to help make those hospitals more efficient,” he said. “Because, let’s face it, if they would all close, we probably wouldn’t be able to handle that kind of capacity.”

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