LSU Health Shreveport announced back in September that it would pursue a request for proposals process to look for possible private partners, but now that process has changed.
"About two weeks ago or so we had notification from the system's office of President Jenkins that the RFP process would not be used for helping us select a partner going forward for the hospital medical school," explains Dr. Hugh Mighty, Vice Chancellor for Clinical Affairs at LSU Health Shreveport.
Dr. Mighty says a private entity - the LSU Health Sciences Foundation - is stepping in to identify and negotiate with potential partners.
"We are really on a timeline to make sure that we have converted and have found a partner well before that deadline."
Mighty says the hospital's race against the clock to meet tens of millions in budget reductions by the end of the fiscal year prompted the decision but can a private foundation legally market a public entity?
"They can work in the process of trying to help the university but when the decisions have to be made but the LSU Board of Supervisors has the legal authority to basically make decisions from improving, running, leasing property of whatever nature or kind, for the LSU Health Sciences Center here in Shreveport," says District 37 Senator Barrow Peacock.
Peacock says when it comes to a potential partnership's impact on the state budget, that is ultimately in the hands of the state legislature.
"In the end, before the final thing is done, there will be oversight that is publicly displayed to everybody."
Until then, the intent by LSU Health leadership is to keep details under wraps, as the top Sheveport administrator, Dr. Robert Barish, said in a ''Message from the Chancellor'' to the faculty, staff and boosters, saying quote. "These types of arrangements cannot be effectively negotiated in the public eye...''
By using the private foundation to handle this process, that's asking for a leap of faith for the campus's almost 6,000 employees and for Northwest Louisiana residents, who understand that LSU Health Shreveport means nearly $700 million to the regional economy.
But despite the difficult task ahead, Dr. Mighty remains optimistic about LSU Health's future.
"The mission itself is just too important, too vital, not to look at this as an opportunity to move forward."
Mighty says other private health care institutions have expressed interest in pursuing a partnership with the three LSU hospitals - Shreveport, Monroe and Alexandria/Pineville.
This process of seeking investors for partnership is the result of a $60 million budget deficit in federal Medicaid funding.