- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

MONROE, La. (AP) - Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo says the city is working on an incentive package to offer St. Francis Medical Center to entice the hospital to stay at its downtown location.

St. Francis Medical Center is considering a plan that would close its downtown campus and consolidate its operations into St. Francis North hospital on U.S. 165 North.

St. Francis employs about 2,000 workers.

The move is a cost-cutting measure to address a “financial crisis” hospital officials say has resulted from continued reductions in Medicare reimbursements, cuts to the state’s Medicaid program and the state divesting itself of the old charity hospital system.

Consultants will determine whether a consolidation would make sense for the hospital’s future.

Last week Mayo talked with St. Francis interim CEO Scott Wester.

St. Francis announced this month it plans to cut about 300 jobs before the end of the year.

“He has indicated to a degree what their challenges are, so I plan to give him a preliminary proposal of what the city can do and see whether or not they accept it,” Mayo said.

The News-Star reports (https://tnsne.ws/1wJs0qN) Mayo declined to provide specifics about the preliminary proposal, but he said an announcement would come soon.

“Obviously it would be incentives to stay which normally consist of some degree of financial help,” Mayo said.

He said city officials will continue discussions with St. Francis to get details of all the hospital’s financial challenges. He believes an offer could be made in the next several weeks.

The proposal would be a short-term measure to provide St. Francis additional time to determine long-term answers.

“This hopefully would help them reduce expenses. They have operational challenges there and they’ve lost quite a bit of money. The fact of the matter is they need help to have an opportunity to stay where they are,” Mayo said.

One issue is the age of the hospital with some buildings that date back to 1944. The hospital currently pays $3.5 million a year in utility costs and significantly higher maintenance costs because of its age.

Any proposed incentive package would need approval from the Monroe City Council.

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Information from: The News-Star, https://www.thenewsstar.com


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