A new survey by 24/7 Wall Street has revealed that the Monroe Metropolitan Area, which includes 11 northeast Louisiana Parishes, is the sixth-poorest metropolitan area in the U.S. and at 27.9 percent, has the eighth-highest percentage of households living below the poverty line.
Accordingly, The LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport sent out notices to 41 employees of E.A. Conway Medical Center in Monroe Tuesday that they will no longer have jobs after Nov. 30.
Merry Christmas to E.A. Conway employees who will soon be unemployed. Great timing.
University Medical Center (UMC) Chancellor Dr. Robert Barish simultaneously notified E.A. Conway employees and State Civil Service Director Shannon Templet that 25 of the 41 employees targeted for layoffs are nurses.
Others include four police officers, two nursing assistants, two administrative coordinators, and (one each) respiratory care therapist, speech/audiologist specialist, EKG technician, radiologic technician, social worker, electriction, mobile equipment operator and printing operator.
The layoffs, Barish said, are the result of a reduction in federal Medicaid dollars to the state and are necessary “after other budgetary measures were taken, as a layoff avoidance measure, that did not meet the total dollars needed to match the reduction.”
The overall impact of the layoffs and cutbacks to E.A. Conway will be $8.5 million, he said.
With such a high poverty rate, many of the 178,000 residents of the Monroe Metropolitan Area rely on Conway for health care. Now, those health care services will either be cut back drastically or delayed for many who need them most.
Merry Christmas to tens of thousands of northeast Louisiana residents who will soon find medical care more difficult to obtain.
While median income across the nation decreased by $642 per year from 2010 to 2011, it went into a free-fall in the Monroe Metropolitan Area, plummeting by $5,434.
At the same time, the area’s poverty rate rose by an eye-popping seven percentage points. Moreover, the 11.4 percent of households earning less than $10,000 in 2011 was the third-highest percentage of all metropolitan areas.
The cutbacks and layoffs at Conway would appear to have been implemented with no planning and little consideration given to the needs of the areas served just as other policy moves have been made.
The Jindal administration, for example, privatized the John Hainkel Home and Rehabilitation Center in New Orleans in 2011 and in June of this year, Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein quietly notified the facility that it was revoking its license, ostensibly because of deficiencies found during inspections.
A more likely reason for the action is that 73 of the home’s 82 patients pay for their care at the Hainkel Home through state Medicaid funding. Ergo, close the facility and if those 73 patients are unable to enter another facility that accepts Medicaid patients, Jindal gets to cut Medicaid costs in a furtive move that flies under the radar.
And it won’t be a simple task for those patients to find a new care provider. The Hainkel Home is one of the few remaining options in New Orleans for Medicaid patients and Veterans Administration patients. Most nursing homes will not accept Medicaid and V.A. patients and are actively purging current Medicaid and V.A. patients from their populations.
So, while Piyush Jindal continues to push for corporate tax breaks and exemptions for campaign contributors, he embarks on a campaign of slashing budgets and cutting services as a means of making up revenue lost by what can only be described as to poor—or perhaps contrived—administrative decisions.
Such are the methods of the Piyush Jindal administration.