By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL – Hospitals in St. Tammany Parish are quickly doing what they can to help out hundreds of workers from the Louisiana Heart Hospital who are suddenly looking for a job after LHH announced on Jan. 31 that they would be closing their doors at the end of February.
The hospital is now officially closed after mounting debt estimated to be as much as $500 million to over 1,000 creditors became too much to overcome. The hospital had been looking for a buyer for over a year and appeared to be close to a deal, still complications involving the fact the hospital was partly owned by physicians added to the challenge to close a deal.
Approximately 600 employees lost their jobs, however, St. Tammany hospitals immediately offered job fairs and online application opportunities and have already hired a large number of the workers.
Lakeview Regional in Mandeville, Slidell Memorial Hospital and St. Tammany Hospital in Covington have all reached out to hold job fairs and interview opportunities for LHH employees, with a total of over 100 already obtaining jobs.
Slidell Memorial Hospital Director of Business Development Sam Caruso Jr. reported this week that they have already hired 40 employees who were at the Heart Hospital.
Lakeview Regional Medical Center CEO Bret Kolman said they have also hired nearly 40 employees and expect that number to grow substantially in the coming weeks.
St. Tammany Hospital Director of Communication Melissa Hodgson said they have hired 30 and seen over 400 when considering an online RN recruitment event they held just before LHH announced they were closing.
“Our hearts go out to the patients, staff and physicians affected by the unexpected closing of Louisiana Heart Hospital,” said Kolman. “We are saddened to lose a valuable healthcare asset in our community, but we are here for their employees and their patients. And I think we’ll grow stronger as a community as we work together to fill the void.”
Caruso echoed those thoughts by stating that SMH prepared to take on new patients, and also began actively hiring employees and additional medical staff to their team.
Caruso said that “within a few days of LHH’s announcement we collaborated with our partners at Ochsner, St. Tammany Parish Hospital and Hancock Medical Center to hold onsite job fairs at LHH, as well as open houses at each facility. We hired our first LHH employee the very next day after the announcement.”
Lakeview Regional also teamed up with sister Health Care of American (HCA) hospitals in New Orleans at Tulane Medical Center, along with Gardner Park Medical Center in Gulfport, Miss., to mobilize for the area’s needs.
The HCA MidAmerica hospitals also held several job fairs over the last two weeks and are continuing to hire registered nurses as well as ancillary staff like housekeepers and dietary workers.
Lakeview Regional and Tulane leaders are working with LHH physicians to help ensure continuity of patient care and to serve the community’s growing healthcare needs.
Open positions at the HCA MidAmerica facilities can be found at LakeviewRegional.com/Careers, TulaneHealthcare.com/Careers and GardenParkMedical.com/Careers.
Anyone interested in a career with Slidell Memorial Hospital can go online to SlidellMemorial.org/careers.