On the first day of July, Louisiana's public hospitals took what will amount to an $860 million cut in funds when the state match is included.
That's not good news for any of Louisiana's public hospitals, but three state senators from Northwest Louisiana last week took a trip to Baltimore, Maryland, to investigate a formerly public hospital that was privatized almost 30 years ago.
State Sens. Greg Tarver, Sherri Smith Buffington and Barrow Peacock were joined by Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Chancellor Robert Barish, M.D., and Vice Chancellor, Hugh E. Mighty, M.D., MBA in the visit to the University of Maryland Medical Center, as well as the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
The UMSM, established in 1807, was the fifth medical school established in the United States, and the very first public medical school. In addition, it was the first school in the University of Maryland system.
The Medical Center was established in 1823 as Baltimore Infirmary, but in 1985 sold to a private, non-profit 5-1 (c) (3) concern.
Although the hospital's relationship with the medical school as a teaching institution remained unchanged and indigent patients were still treated, the private designation allowed it to grow into one of the top hospitals in the nation.
Peacock said the trip was simply a fact-finding mission based on the deep cuts to the state's medical coffers. "Right now, we're trying to find the best situation going forward and decided what works in other parts of the country."
Right now, LSU Medical Center's Trauma Center is the only trauma center in a 200-mile radius and one of the top trauma centers in the nation. Peacock said that was one of the things his delegation took into account when visiting the Maryland hospital. "They have six floors dedicated to trauma cases," he said., adding,"private non-profit hospitals can re-invest profits into the institution."
The list of the University of Maryland Medical Center's accolades is long, and was named as one of the top hospitals in the country in this year's U.S. News and World Reports Top 100 Hospitals in the country.
"We're just trying to determine the best thing to do (for LSUHSC) in Shreveport, and we're looking at a number of options," Peacock said.