Tulane Neurosurgery Group has taken over neurosurgical services at East Jefferson General Hospital, a move that will bring into the medical center services that had previously been provided at outside clinics.
The result could be a financial boost for the struggling hospital.
East Jefferson President and CEO Dr. Mark Peters said adding the Tulane group, which will perform an array of services including enhanced cranial and spinal care, will allow patients to get all their neurosurgical services through the hospital.
The group that had previously provided those services had not been in the network of the insurance plans accepted by the hospital, forcing doctors at East Jefferson to refer patients to other providers.
“Patients wanted to come to East Jeff, and we were not able to care for them,” Peters said. “We put that as a priority — how do we get access to everybody, the insured, Medicare and everybody.”
Dr. Aaron Dumont, the medical director of neurosurgery for the hospital and the chairman of neurosurgery at Tulane University School of Medicine, praised the partnership in a news release.
“We are honored and excited to be a new part of the neurosciences program at East Jefferson General Hospital,” Dumont said. “We look forward to building upon an excellent foundation as we collaborate with a multidisciplinary team to create a comprehensive neuroscience program to serve our patients and our community.”
Under the deal, the doctors will work exclusively for East Jefferson General Hospital and for Tulane University Medical Center, Peters said.
That’s a departure from the arrangement with the previous group, which allowed doctors to refer patients to Crescent City Surgical Center, a private clinic owned by the group.
The change will allow the hospital to reap the financial benefits of those surgeries, many of them done on patients with private insurance that pays more than Medicare, which covers the health care costs of about 65 percent of the patients at the hospital, Peters said.
“It will be a positive force from a financial standpoint in addition to opening up the access,” he said.
Many doctors at East Jefferson also run private clinics and refer patients to those clinics for profitable procedures. That practice has been seen as one of the factors causing the hospital’s financial problems.
East Jefferson has been facing financial difficulties for years, and its board had hoped to resolve them by privatizing the parish-owned hospital. Those plans were dashed earlier this year when both HCA, the hospital board’s choice for a partner, and Ochsner Health System withdrew their proposals to lease the hospital after contentious battles on the Parish Council over whether one of those companies or LCMC Health should run East Jefferson and West Jefferson Medical Center.
The parish is negotiating with LCMC Health to lease only West Jefferson.
Peters said the east bank hospital is looking at a variety of potential options for how to improve its financial situation now that there is no obvious private partner on the horizon. However, those proposals have not been finalized and no discussions about signing exclusive agreements with other departments at the hospital are underway, he said.
“We’ve been looking at a lot of different things, pretty much across the board, since the partnership talks stopped for us,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of planning and looking at how we can be better at all the things we do.”
Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.