Hospital CEO: Budget cuts could devastate healthcare

The Advocate

Louisiana’s budget crisis and cuts to funding for health care could devastate the state’s hospitals and patient care, said Mark Slyter, chief executive officer of Baton Rouge General Health System.

The shortfall is estimated at $750 million by June 30 and $1.9 billion by the end of the next fiscal year.

“So right now, we’re talking about cutting another $131 million out of the health care budget and how devastating that would be for health care,” Slyter said.

For every dollar the state spends on health care, the federal government provides about $1.65. The $131 million cut actually will be $350 million in cuts.

Slyter was one of four local hospital officials who spoke at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s monthly luncheon. About 60 people attended.

He asked the business community to work with the hospitals and health care industry on reforms to help prevent job losses that would hamper economic growth.

The other speakers were Eric McMillen, CEO of Ochsner Medical Center Baton Rouge; Laurel Kitto, director of the newborn and infant intensive care unit at Woman’s Hospital; and Terrie Sterling, chief operating officer at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center.

McMillen said Ochsner is planning to bring an “O Bar,” like the Genius Bar at Apple stores, to Baton Rouge. Doctors would prescribe apps for patients, say for diabetes or high blood pressure. The patients would go to the O Bar, and a tech would install the app on the patient’s phone and show them how to use it.

Ochsner hasn’t decided where it will put the O Bar, but it is coming soon, he said.

Sterling said the Lake expects to break ground on the new Children’s Hospital in about two weeks and move into the new facility about 30 months from now.

The Lake has built or is building satellite pediatric clinics in Lafayette, Hammond and Monroe and plans to have locations in every major city in Louisiana, Sterling said.

Kitto discussed Woman’s Hospital’s perinatal palliative care, a special program for newborns who aren’t expected to live long. In addition to pain management for newborns, the program offers parents counseling.

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