Ochsner Health System acquires River Parishes Hospital

Published 3:00 pm Tuesday, September 9, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — River Parishes Hospital will be no more as of Nov. 1.

The hospital will remain open, but operate under a different name — Ochsner Medical Complex-River Parishes.

News of the sale was announced Tuesday morning to hospital employees, but David Gaines, senior vice president of public affairs for Ochsner, said the purchase has been in the works for 12 to 18 months.

“Had this not taken place, care in this parish would have been in severe jeopardy,” Gaines told L’OBSERVATEUR Tuesday, adding the current model at River Parishes Hospital was not sustainable in the new health care environment.

Reports indicate about 60 percent of the hospital’s full-time staff will lose their jobs by Nov. 1.

The vision in LaPlace, Ochsner leaders said, is to develop a new, modern medical facility focused on emergency, primary care, laboratory and radiology services with advanced technology within the next 18-24 months.

River Parishes Hospital is an acute-care hospital. It is joining Ochsner Health System, a national referral center and one of the Gulf South’s leading health systems.

The acquisition of River Parishes by Ochsner will help ensure the delivery of essential, high quality health care services to people in St. John the Baptist Parish into the future, Ochsner leaders said.

River Parishes Hospital CEO Alan Daugherty said River Parishes Hospital’s recent challenges include reductions in reimbursement and significant declines in patient utilization.

“We are pleased that, as part of Ochsner, River Parishes will continue to provide the most essential services — emergency, outpatient diagnostic and primary care services — allowing patients to continue to receive the care they need close to home,” Daugherty said. “Ochsner Health System has an outstanding reputation for clinical excellence throughout this region, and River Parishes already has clinical collaborations with several of its providers and facilities.”

St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom said continuing to have access to emergency medical services is important to local residents and the community.

“While River Parishes Hospital has struggled to remain viable for years, their collaboration with the Ochsner Health System and its record in the health care industry appears to support their commitment to our residents,” she said. “Based on limited information, the plan appears better than the alternative of losing medical services all together.”

Under the terms of a definitive agreement between Ochsner and River Parishes’ parent company, LifePoint Hospitals, Ochsner will operate River Parishes as an outpatient medical facility, providing emergency, outpatient diagnostic and primary care services.

Ochsner will continue to use its existing partnerships with St. Charles and St. James Parish Hospitals and work closely with its medical center in Kenner to meet local needs for surgery and inpatient care.

Warner Thomas, president and CEO of Ochsner Health System, said regional coordination of care has never been more important.

“As part of the integrated Ochsner Health System, River Parishes will have the support needed to remain committed to serving their patients while allowing improved access to specialty services,” Thomas said. “This new collaborative model of care is an effective approach to ensure access to affordable, high quality healthcare in the community.”