Much of the recent turmoil in the Jefferson Parish hospitals lease process has concerned conclusions, or lack thereof, provided by the consulting firm Kaufman Hall & Associates Inc. of Skokie, Ill. Parish Council members and hospitals officials have attacked the firm either for refusing to recommend one of three private operators for the lease or for offering what they say are inconsistent recommendations based on political pressure.
Yet it's not clear that Kaufman Hall has done anything other than what it agreed to do, which broadly speaking was to assist an umbrella board comprising both hospitals with developing goals, recruiting potential lessees and executing a transaction, according to two heretofore secret proposals that were accepted by the board, commonly known as the Third District.
The two proposals (Proposal 1
and Proposal 2
) detail 27 tasks spread over three phases leading to closing on a transaction, and the Third District had the option of ending the engagement after each phase. At no point do the proposals explicitly say Kaufman Hall would officially recommend anything.
Absent a Kaufman Hall recommendation for a single lessee or a recommendation from the Third District hospital board, the Parish Council is feeling its way forward with little political cover, split between those members who prefer Louisiana Children's Medical Center and those who are resisting that choice. The separate hospital boards, too, are divided: West Jefferson Medical Center wants Louisiana Children's Medical Center and East Jefferson General Hospital wants Hospital Corp. of America.
Those two operators, along with Ochsner Medical Center, emerged as finalists in a process that Kaufman Hall began steering 18 months ago. The firm's tasks were designed to assist, work alongside and coordinate on behalf of the Third District, according to its proposals.