Parish, Ochsner continue negotiations on care center

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter

Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso, Jr. announced last week he was extending negotiations with Ochsner Health System on an emergency and ambulatory care center area until June 30.

The company has narrowed its consideration to two sites in the Plaquemine area, Ourso told the Iberville Parish Council last week. He said he needs additional time to complete negotiations with Ochsner to provide emergency care and other services for the first time since River West Medical Center closed three years ago.

Later last week, Ourso and Mitch Wasden, CEO of Ochsner Health System Baton Rouge Region announced they had signed an extension of a previous letter of intent to explore developing the facility here. The original letter of intent called for a definitive agreement by this week.

Using federal hurricane recovery funds, the parish plans to build a facility and lease it to Ochsner, which would provide healthcare services and be solely responsible for its medical operations, both clinically and financially.

Although the letter of intent is not binding, the parish president has said he thought they would be able to reach an agreement.

“We have worked very hard to get a strong medical provider interested in coming to Iberville,” Ourso said in a news release.” The negotiations on this partnership are proceeding well, but are very complicated and take time...I want to assure residents that I am doing everything possible to both bring a medical facility to Iberville and also to make sure our federal hurricane funds are used wisely.”

Some $20 million of the parish’s $44 million in federal hurricane recovery funds will be used to build the medical facility.

In the negotiations, the parish and Ochsner representatives are trying to come to an agreement on the size of the facility to be built, the scope of services to be delivered, and the number of employees who will work at the facility.

The parish also has to get approval from the Louisiana Office of Community Development – Disaster Recovery Unit for the funds to buy the property and to construct and equip the facility.

Ochsner Health System, in addition to its Medical Center locations in Baton Rouge, owns and operates seven acute care hospitals and provides physician, specialty and outpatient care at more than 50 locations in Louisiana.