Louisiana health system foundation chair resigns, calls organization 'morally bankrupt'

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The board chair of Our Lady of the Lake Foundation resigned from his post, citing concerns about the way the health system handled contract negotiations and its split from Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, according to an Oct. 6 resignation letter.

In the letter, Thomas Adamek, the owner of a Baton Rouge, La.-based investment business who also held dual roles as chair of the foundation and chair of Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, called Our Lady of the Lake's behavior "spiteful, wasteful and morally indefensible."

"We all make choices on where to devote our time, treasure and talents," Mr. Adamek wrote in the letter. "I just cannot continue to support an organization which apparently has become morally bankrupt."

Mary Bird Perkins and Our Lady of the Lake, both based in Baton Rouge, were negotiating a contract extension on their cancer care partnership earlier this year. However, talks fell through and Mary Bird has since decided to affiliate with a different provider. 

Mr. Adamek said that in contract negotiations, he believed Mary Bird presented fair and appropriate terms that would have ensured great care for thousands of cancer patients and would have made Our Lady of the Lake "a lot of money." In return, he claims Our Lady of the Lake presented Mary Bird with a term sheet to sell its entire operation to the health system. 

Mr. Adamek called the negotiations a "side show," because Our Lady of the Lake reportedly had been working on plans to build its own, competing $100 million cancer center during the negotiations.

"[Our Lady of the Lake President and CEO] Scott Wester announced that OLOL had been working on its big 'cancer center' announcement for over a year," Mr. Adamek wrote. "If that is true [they] played me and the others who participated in the negotiations for fools — as the negotiations were a side show."

Additionally, Mr. Adamek said the "straw that broke the camel's back" was Our Lady of the Lake's decision to terminate its professional services agreement with several physicians at  Louisiana Hematology Oncology Associates this week.

"These actions will severely compromise access to care for the hundreds of cancer patients cared for by LHOA physicians," Mr. Adamek said.

Our Lady of the Lake disputed many claims made by Mr. Adamek and said "in many instances, the letter contents were false." 

"Our Lady of the Lake was not planning to end our affiliation and provide independent cancer care," Mr. Wester said. "We made that pivot after Mary Bird Perkins ended our partnership."

Additionally, Mr. Wester said the termination of its agreement with Louisiana Hematology was made after several physicians refused to meet with Our Lady of the Lake to discuss a transition and how their public statements regarding their partnerships with Mary Bird Perkins and Baton Rouge General violated a business agreement between them.

"We regret if the LHOA providers have been misled by Mary Bird Perkins leadership regarding their competitive restrictions and in the haste of others at Mary Bird Perkins and Baton Rouge General to announce a partnership, these physicians have been drawn into public statements inappropriately," Mr. Wester said. 

"Our Lady of the Lake stands by our Mission, our patients, and the continuity of their care," Mr. Wester said.

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