AMITE — The Tangipahoa Parish Council unanimously passed a resolution Monday calling on North Oaks Medical Center to reverse its plan to open a retail pharmacy facility in the hospital this summer.
A.J. Bodker, chairman of the hospital’s board of commissioners, in a written announcement Sunday said the hospital plans to open a limited retail pharmacy within its walls in response to rising employee health care costs and to national health care reform laws aimed at reducing patient readmission rates.
Bodker pointed out that only prescription medications will be sold and the hours of operation of the pharmacy will be limited.
He said the pharmacy should allow for better follow-up patient care if prescriptions are filled at the hospital at the time of a patient’s discharge.
Councilman Nicky Muscarello, who introduced the resolution Monday, said the North Oaks pharmacy could hurt independent pharmacy operators, especially those located near the hospital.
The council’s resolution notes that North Oaks Medical Center was created in 1955 when voters in the 7th Ward chose to tax themselves to build a hospital.
The resolution also notes that local sales tax revenue will be affected because prescriptions filled in-house are tax free.
Terri Chaucer, owner of Chaucer’s Pharmacy located near the hospital, said in the past year, she has filled more than 3,000 prescriptions for hospital employees. “If North Oaks opens a pharmacy, it will be a dagger in the heart of my small, little business,” she said.
Chaucer said she was chosen as spokeswoman for the 19 pharmacies located within 10 miles of North Oaks.
Parish Council Chairman David Vial asked all council members and pharmacists to attend the North Oaks Hospital Board of Commissioners meeting set for 4:45 p.m. Wednesday at the hospital.
In unrelated business Monday, the council unanimously accepted the final list of recommended changes to the parish charter drawn up by a special committee.
The recommendations include:
n Limiting the parish president and council members to three consecutive four-year terms. There are no term limits in the charter. Burgess has served as parish president since 1985, when the new form of government was first enacted.
n Decreasing the number of council districts from 10 to nine to eliminate the possibility of tie votes.
n Removing from the parish president line-item veto power on the budget.
n Requiring the council to appoint a chief administrative officer to serve as acting parish president if the office becomes vacant or in the temporary absence of the parish president.
n Reducing the percentage of voter signatures needed for an initiative or referendum from 20 percent to 10 percent.
The council will schedule public hearings in May about the proposed changes.
The council must give its final approval to the committee’s proposals before the matter can go to the voters in the Nov. 4 general election.