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Decision on lawsuit against Shreveport hospital manager rests with university system president

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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — If LSU decides to file a breach of contract lawsuit against its Shreveport hospital manager, that will be up to the university system's president.

The LSU Board of Supervisors met behind closed doors Friday in Alexandria to discuss the escalating tensions between the university and the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana, which runs the LSU hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe.

After emerging from executive session, LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard said the board voted to authorize F. King Alexander to "take any actions necessary" to address questions about whether the research foundation was meeting the terms of its contract.

Citing legal concerns, university officials haven't outlined specific complaints with the performance of the research foundation, known as BRF, which operates the two hospitals as University Health System.

"The partnership between LSU and the BRF has not met LSU's expectations," Ann Duplessis, chairwoman of the LSU Board of Supervisors, said in a statement.

LSU officials and the hospital managers have repeatedly clashed since Gov. Bobby Jindal privatized the Shreveport and Monroe hospitals nearly two years ago.

"As we have always done, we will act in good faith to find a solution to address the board's concerns and ensure the high quality provision of medical training and health care delivery," Alexander said in a statement.

Without offering details, Alexander described "serious challenges" and asked the community, doctors and LSU supporters for "for support and patience as we work through the complicated issues at hand and secure a beneficial solution for Shreveport and Monroe."

The foundation took control of LSU's Shreveport and Monroe hospitals in October 2013, as part of Jindal's push to privatize most of the university-run public hospital system. BRF had never run a patient care facility when it got the no-bid contract.

Financial documents took nearly a year to complete. LSU sent a collection letter demanding millions in payments during the dispute. The foundation accused LSU of mismanaging its clinics. University Health's CEO abruptly resigned in March.

An outside consulting firm hired by LSU officials has said the privatization deal for the Shreveport hospital has created such management and financial tensions that it threatens the health of the university's nearby medical school.

Lawmakers have raised concerns about the financial viability of the hospital's business model and have described poor working relationships between LSU and University Health management.

This week, the hospital manager raised complaints about possible contracts that would have LSU doctors working at a nearby competitor in the region, Willis-Knighton Health System, clinics to provide specialty care.

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