Louisiana State University has given the foundation operating its hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe 15 days to correct a long list of complaints or step aside for a new operator.
Friday's letter from LSU President F. King Alexander to the chairman of the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana comes after months of growing tensions. It outlines numerous ways in which the foundation allegedly failed to perform obligations in running a public hospital, such as collaborating with LSU on technology matters and supporting LSU's teaching mission.
LSU officials and the hospital managers have repeatedly clashed since Gov. Bobby Jindal privatized state hospitals in 2013.
Foundation chairman Steve Skrivanos told the News-Star in Monroe on Friday that the foundation has honored every part of its agreement.
A statement released by Biomedical said "patient volumes are up, clinic wait times are down, operations are more efficient and financially stable and the long and factual list of accomplishments goes on and on."
King's letter says "BRF has repeatedly failed to act collaboratively with LSU ad the State of Louisiana ... failed to support and promote the academic mission of the LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport, and failed to establish a sustainable and competitive business model."
It goes on to say BRF has engaged in actions contrary to the best interests of the state and LSU and has threatened the finances of the Shreveport hospital as well as EA Conway, the state hospital in Monroe.
One north Louisiana state lawmaker, Sen. Francis Thompson (D-Delhi) supports the foundation, telling The News-Star that it "has provided more and better opportunities for healthcare for all our citizens."
"We don't want to do anything to interrupt that," Thompson said. "I challenge anybody to say the hospitals haven't thrived under the current partnership."
U.S. Sen. David Vitter is among critics of the way Jindal privatized the hospitals—and of the foundation.
"Almost everybody has said it was a hurried process that ended with a weak non-state partner (in northern Louisiana)," said Vitter, a Republican who is among four major candidates seeking to replace Jindal in this fall's election. Jindal, who is term limited, is campaigning for the GOP presidential nomination.
Jindal, for his part, said he supports LSU's decision.
"We are confident LSU will work with community leaders to identify a new partner for the Shreveport and Monroe hospitals which will result in an improved partnership to provide health care for the area," Jindal said in a statement.