In The News › BGR critical of hospital selection process

Nov 7, 2013

Source: The Advocate

Filed under: Contracting, Hospitals, Jefferson Parish

BGR critical of hospital selection process

By Jeff Adelson

The Advocate

November 7, 2013

The process of deciding which company should run Jefferson Parish’s two public hospitals is in “total disarray,” owing in part to a lack of clear standards to be used for the selection, the Bureau of Governmental Research said in a report released Thursday.

The report ties the problems with the decision-making process to the non-partisan policy group’s larger critiques of Jefferson Parish’s contracting processes. BGR has been heavily critical of how Jefferson Parish dispenses contracts, a process in which Parish Council members wield significant power to determine the choice of vendors for projects in their districts.

“The troubled hospital leasing process provides yet another example of the pressing need to establish rational and objective standards for awarding contracts in Jefferson Parish,” according to the report.

In outlining issues with the process of leasing East Jefferson General Hospital and West Jefferson Medical Center, the report notes the decision-making process has been “shrouded in secrecy.” While the boards of the two hospitals used a set of 18 criteria to make their decisions, that framework did not “weight” the criteria to give board members or the Parish Council an objective way to score each of the companies seeking to take over the hospitals.

This makes “it impossible to establish an objective scoring system to rank the proposals. This is a recipe for an overly subjective selection process,” according to the report.

Both the hospital boards and the Parish Council is now split between two of the three finalists in the process: national healthcare giant HCA and New Orleans-based Louisiana Children’s Medical Center. Since this summer, proponents of each company have argued the case for their choice by making arguments based on significantly different philosophies over what would be best for Jefferson Parish.

HCA proponents, led by the East Jefferson hospital board, have focused on the company’s larger lease payments and the property taxes that would flow to parish agencies from improvements made to the hospitals by the for-profit company. Those favoring Children’s, including the West Jefferson hospital board, have argued a non-profit better fits the mission and the culture of the public hospitals and that a for-profit company would not reinvest in the community.

BGR has been critical of Jefferson Parish’s contracting processes for years, noting that they give undue power over selecting contractors to council members. The report ties those concerns to the hospital lease, noting that neither process allows for an objective set of standards that could be used to chose the best company for the job.

“Council members have rightly stated that the hospital lease contract will probably be the biggest decision they will ever make on the council,” according to the report. “The fact that such an important decision-making process could fall into disarray is telling. It is time for the Parish Council to implement the fundamental contracting reforms that the parish so desperately needs.”

Nov 7, 2013

Source: The Advocate

Filed under: Contracting, Hospitals, Jefferson Parish

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