Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. told the Parish Council last week that he is still searching for a consulting firm to advise the parish on the feasibility of forming a hospital district to operate River West Medical Center.


 

Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. told the Parish Council last week that he is still searching for a consulting firm to advise the parish on the feasibility of forming a hospital district to operate River West Medical Center.

He said he had been working with a company recommended by some local doctors that was “not as sound as I thought it was.”

Ourso has assigned Chief Administrative Officer Edward A. “Lucky” Songy Jr. to oversee the investigation.

“We’re taking our time to find the right company,” Ourso said.

He recommended that parish officials go to Pointe Coupee, St. James and other parishes that have hospital districts “to see what we’re getting into.”

River West administrators laid off half the hospital’s staff and limited services after the company hit financial difficulties earlier this year. The company now is in bankruptcy court.

“I don’t really like the idea of expanding government,” Ourso said, but he said he had been asked about forming a hospital district to keep the local hospital open.

He reiterated that he would not propose an additional property tax millage for the venture and that a potential hospital district would have to be financed with a sales tax. Since the parish is at the state maximum for sales taxes, the Legislature would have to authorize an additional levy before voters could consider it.

“I don’t have any idea how long the hospital can hang on,” Ourso said.