MORGAN CITY, La., July 12, 2023- St. Mary Hospital District 2 Board held a special meeting on July 11, 2023 to vote on the status of the two propositions that were previously approved for the upcoming October 14 election ballot.
Proposition One asks the community to support a 5.5 millage to work towards restarting Labor and Delivery services at Ochsner St. Mary (OSM) Hospital. The funds would go towards OB physician and staff recruitment to develop a department of three physicians and support the staff necessary for the department. It would also allow for recruitment assistance for other specialties along with improvements to the hospital and progress reports to the community.
Proposition Two would rededicate existing funds to support these efforts. Currently those funds are restricted to the purchase of equipment and facility improvements. If voters approve these propositions, efforts to recruit new OB/GYN physicians could begin in 2023.
Since initial discussions in March, the HSD 2 board has not reached a written agreement with the leadership of OSM. Discussions are ongoing and the HSD Board voted to continue discussions so terms could be reached. The Board has agreed to allow 14 days to reach an agreement. “If an agreement is not reached, the Board will remove the propositions from the October 14 ballot,” said HSD Board attorney, William Bourgeois.
Dr. William Cefalu, HSD Board Chairman, said “Labor and delivery services closer to home saves lives by reducing complications and risks for mothers and babies. Louisiana has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the US. In St. Mary Parish, we have a higher infant mortality rate than the national average with 7.6 versus 5.9 per 1000 live births.” Dr. Cefalu further added, “The proposed millage would cost $13.75 per year for a $100,000 residential owner and our patients are likely paying that much in fuel to go to hospitals out of our District to deliver their babies.”
Bourgeois said the community would be informed when the HSD Board and OSM reach a written agreement.