OUR VIEW: Hospital deal a win, but tough days ahead

The timing couldn’t have been any more perfect than this week – the official Tri-Parish Times Health Care issue. 

Standing before a room packed with local politicians and business leaders, officials gathered inside Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center on Monday morning to honor the beginning of a new era within the hospital’s history. 

The celebration marked the official beginning of a merger between the Oshsner Health System and Terrebonne General Medical Center – a deal that saw millions of dollars thrown around. More importantly, it’s a merger that will protect countless jobs and also give the hospital new life in the face of budget cuts that have nearly bled Chabert to death in recent years.

The partnership is a great thing – our area needs Chabert.

With it, our area has more opportunities for people to get the medical attention that they need in the face of crisis or stressful situation.

Without it, Terrebonne General would bottleneck with its additional customer base – it would be a lose-lose situation for everyone involved.

Local politician Norby Chabert’s expressions throughout Monday said it all. Sure, he has more at stake than others involved, as the hospital bears his family’s name.

But he shed tears during Monday’s celebration to show his happiness with the new life that has been pumped into the medical center’s lungs.

But even with a new beginning, challenges remain going forward.

Even with the new partnership officially under way, not a lot is known about how the two entities will operate while in control of the hospital – that remains to be seen.

Funding is also an issue going forward. The state has slashed countless millions off Chabert’s budget.

The reason for the merger in the first place was because of a $14.3 million cut Chabert was in line to receive – a gashing that would have stripped the hospital of more than 25 percent of its workforce. 

That cut would have crippled the hospital’s services and forced it to shrink its patient capacity. 

How many more Hail Mary passes can the hospital complete before one falls incomplete and things take a turn for the worse and that trend continues? 

So while Monday’s announcement and official beginning is worth celebration, we all must proceed with caution going forward.

Chabert is a cog this area needs going forward.

Everyone involved must make the right moves to keep the medical center here for the extended future.