Ochsner to take over St. Bernard Parish Hospital as billing issues cause debt to mount

To help regain its financial footing, St. Bernard Parish Hospital in Chalmette, La., plans to enter into a long-term lease deal with New Orleans-based Ochsner Health System, according to The New Orleans Advocate.

St. Bernard Parish Hospital's finances have significantly deteriorated since it opened in 2012. An audit report released this month by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's Office revealed the hospital recorded a $19.5 million operating loss in 2015. The auditors said the loss was largely attributable to problems with the hospital's billing and collection procedures, according to the report.

Although St. Bernard Parish Hospital has taken steps to improve its finances in recent years, the hospital recorded an operating loss of nearly $7.2 million in the first 11 months of 2016.

However, the hospital is continuing efforts to get its finances in check. For example, Mary Hand, chairwoman of the St. Bernard Parish Hospital District, told The New Orleans Advocate that the hospital is expected to save $5 million annually through recently adopted measures to increase revenue and cut costs.

Through the long-term lease deal, Ochsner will help St. Bernard Parish Hospital with its turnaround plan. Hospital President Guy McInnis told The New Orleans Advocate the Ochsner lease deal is the best option for the hospital. "It's difficult, financially, to run a hospital, so you need deep pockets," he said.

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