Layoffs approved at Bogalusa hospital

The state Civil Service Commission agreed Wednesday to the privatization of LSU’s hospital in Bogalusa after hearing that it would save taxpayers at least $10 million annually.

The commission voted 6-1 for the plan, which involves the layoff of the hospital’s 554 employees — 334 of them classified as covered by Civil Service.

The remaining 220 employees are unclassified. Voting against was the commission’s state employee-elected member, Curtis “Pete” Fremin, of Morganza.

LSU Health Care Services Division Deputy Chief Executive Officer Lanette Buie said 100 percent of the hospital employees have been offered a position with the private operator.

“Right now about 99 percent have accepted offers,” Buie said.

Commission approval was required before LSU can transfer operation of the hospital to the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System. The transition is scheduled to take place March 17.

The hospital also will drop its Bogalusa Medical Center name and become Our Lady of Angels Hospital.

The facility is the eighth hospital out of LSU’s 10-hospital system to either be taken over by private entities or have the care it delivered transferred to private hospitals.

The seven-member commission, which oversees state employee personnel practices, must approve contracts when state employee jobs are being displaced.

The commission must judge whether the contracts are being implemented for “economy and efficiency” rather than for political purposes.

State Department of Health and Hospitals Undersecretary Jerry Phillips told the commission that the financial deal with the Franciscans will result in a $10.1 million annual savings in its health care operation.

Phillips also said the state will receive lease payments from the Franciscans on the property and its contents.