Officials Consider Moving St. Francis Medical Center Out of Downtown

MONROE -- The Board of Directors at St. Francis Medical Center has approved a feasibility study that would move the hospital's operation out of downtown Monroe to its location in north Monroe.

St. Francis CEO says the board voted on the study on Wednesday. St. Francis officials say no decision has been made to move operations to north Monroe, but that they are doing the feasibility study to look at that as one of several options.

Downtown Monroe has been home to St. Francis Medical Center for over a 100 years. 

St. Francis released this statement on Thursday:

"This evaluation is driven by our continual goal to better serve the needs of our community and to maintain our long-term financial viability so that we can continue to serve Northeast Louisiana.

St. Francis is committed to making adjustments so we are built to deliver on the needs of the communities we serve today and in the future, which is and will be much different than just a few years ago.

Because things in healthcare as well as in our region are changing rapidly, we must adapt in order to fulfill our responsibilities and commitment to those we serve. Though there are many complex issues, there are a few important takeaways for St. Francis.

First, with more emphasis on outpatient services we believe there are more hospital beds set aside for overnight stays in our region than needed. Second, St. Francis Medical Center has an opportunity to generate substantial cost savings that will benefit the region by making better use of our facilities. Third, large reductions in what we are being paid, especially for people insured by Medicaid, have significantly stretched our resources.

As a healthcare leader we have an opportunity to use our knowledge and experiences to help positively transform care delivery in our region."

Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo expressed concerns at a press conference on Thursday over the feasibility study.

"It's very difficult to imagine not having St. Francis hospital in downtown Monroe," he said. "Saint Francis hospital has had a huge impact on downtown for over 100 years."

If the study suggests a move for St. Francis, that's 750,000 square feet of building the mayor says could go vacant.

"The number of jobs that you have, you're talking about over 1000 jobs, in the downtown facility," he said. "It would be a huge gap if it were to move."

Sue Nicholson with the Monroe Chamber of Commerce says hospitals nationwide are facing issues when it comes to cuts, due to the Affordable Care Act and cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

"So trying to make those ends meet, it makes a lot of sense that they'd be looking at ways to consolidate costs," Nicholson. "That's challenging for these medical businesses where their reimbursements are being cut, so their revenue is actually going down and the costs are going up. One can't fault an institution like St. Francis to find ways to operate more effectively and efficiently."

She agrees it will be a loss to the downtown area.

"It is a study. It could come back and say that where they are now, is where they need to be," she said.

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