LAFAYETTE, La. and NEW ORLEANS, La. - The Board of Trustees of Lafayette General Health and Ochsner Health System announced on Wednesday they have signed a letter of intent for Lafayette General to merge with Ochsner Health System. The merger builds on the clinical affiliation between the two health systems and the combined organization will be the largest healthcare provider in the Gulf South, according to Lafayette General.
"Our vision is to truly improve the health of Louisianans and people across the Gulf South," said Lafayette General Health Board of Trustees Chairman David Wilson. "Just last year, Louisiana ranked as our nation's least healthy state. By combining our resources and talent, we will be able to provide better access to healthcare here in Acadiana and to continue growing our local economy."
"Lafayette General is a tremendous health system known for high quality care and an extraordinary commitment to patients," said Ochsner Health System Board of Directors Chairman Andrew Wisdom. "We are proud of what we've been able to accomplish through our four-year affiliation, but we know we have only scratched the surface of what we can do together to strengthen access to services in the region and across the state."
As part of the agreement, Lafayette General will anchor services as the regional healthcare hub in Southwest Louisiana for the statewide health system, and Ochsner will invest $365 million in capital and resources in Acadiana over the next 10 years.
Expanding and enhancing clinical services focused on the critical health needs of Southwest Louisiana
- The system will invest more than $50 million in expanding key services including pediatrics, women's health, cancer services and more, as well as introduce pioneering behavioral health services the community desperately needs.
Increasing access to care for all patients, regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay
- The partnership will provide greater financial stability for University Hospital & Clinics, enabling the hospital to continue serving the most vulnerable members of the community. Additionally, a 10-year, $10 million Community Support Fund overseen by the Lafayette General Board will be created to advance health and wellness in Acadiana.
Strengthening training and education for Lafayette General employees, providers and caregivers
- A major investment in graduate medical education will be made at Lafayette General Medical Center to help train the physicians of the future. The system will add approximately 48 residency positions at the medical center, building on the 75 positions currently at University Hospital & Clinics and LGMC. Workforce development programs and continuing education to support employees will grow to include physician assistants, respiratory therapists, pharmacy assistants, registered nurses, surgical technicians and medical assistants.
Increasing minimum pay for employees
- All current Lafayette General employees will continue with the combined organization, and minimum pay will increase by nearly $2 to $12 per hour across the system, impacting 800 employees. The system aims to increase jobs over time, as services expand.
Maintaining local control to ensure Lafayette General Health continues to be a cornerstone of the region
- Lafayette General will maintain an open medical staff, allowing physicians to choose how they affiliate with the health system. The current leadership team and Board of Trustees will continue to guide the system and provide operational oversight. Lafayette General will keep its name and co-brand with Ochsner after completion of the merger.
Advancing digital innovation and patient-centered solutions
- The combined system will invest in further development of digital health tools at Lafayette General to empower patients and lower the cost of care. In addition, $1 million will be invested in the Healthcare Innovation Fund at the Lafayette General Health Foundation to further digital medicine and technology initiatives in Acadiana. The Fund, which started in 2016, supports healthcare startup businesses across the region.
"Patients will continue to have access to the same services and physicians they know today," said John Schutte, MD, a member of the Lafayette General Health Board of Trustees and a 32-year practicing orthopedic surgeon. "Our aim is to enhance and expand services for Southwest Louisiana, so that people in Acadiana do not have to leave the area for services. We will work to expand sub-specialty care, especially in pediatrics and oncology."
The merger is expected to be finalized in the spring of 2020.
A website for those affected by the merger has been launched here : www.LeadingTogetherLA.org.