New Orleans City Business

As a final vote on the Jefferson Parish hospital lease deal looms, Ochsner Health System has approval to assume management of a Mississippi hospital.

The Hancock County Board of Supervisors approved a management change for Hancock Medical Center earlier this week.

Quorum Health Resources of Brentwood, Tenn., had managed the hospital for several years. County officials said the transition to Ochsner should be complete within a few weeks.

Hancock Medical Center has 47 staffed beds.

The management shift comes a month after Quorum laid off eight staff members and reduced the hours of others at the hospital. Management attributed the decision to an increase in the inability of patients to pay their bills. Over the past 12 months, Hancock Medical Center recorded $11 million in nonpayment losses.

Hancock County still owes more than $3.15 million on an emergency room expansion at the hospital and has yet to receive about $1.5 million for the project from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, officials said.

Hospital representatives have requested the county approve a $6.1 million bond issuance to cover construction and operating costs.

Ochsner Health System is one of the three suitors vying for a 30-year contract to manage Jefferson Parish’s two public hospitals, along with Louisiana Children’s Medical Center and HCA. The Jefferson Parish Council is expected to make a decision at its Sept. 18 meeting.

Reporter Jessica Gonzalez can be reached at jessica.gonzalez@nopg.com.