Riverland needs to be more open about plans for hospital

Published 12:34 am Thursday, March 17, 2016

Based on the tension apparent in Tuesday’s conversation at the Concordia Parish Police Jury meeting, clearly some bad blood exists between the parish’s healthcare providers.

Dr. Rus Fairbanks came before the jury, presumably representing other physicians who either own or work at Vidalia’s Riverpark Medical Center, to express concerns over future plans for the parish-owned Riverland Medical Center in Ferriday.

The Riverland hospital board has been studying plans for its future for approximately two years, including several feasibility studies and other work from outside consultants.

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Fairbanks told jurors — who will hold the ultimate decision on any significant plans to renovate, rebuild or relocate the hospital — none of the experts advising the hospital ever sought information from Riverpark.

The private facility, Fairbanks said, sees a considerable amount of medical business in the parish — 34,000 patient encounters last year he said — but none of that data has been sought or considered in the various feasibility studies.

Clearly Fairbanks and the other owners of the private facility are looking out for their best interests — as well they should — but their point is a good one. How can a study of health care needs in Concordia Parish not consider Riverpark’s impact?

We hope the Riverland hospital board will remove some of the cloak of secrecy surrounding their plans and simply discuss the options openly. Parish residents — who are the rightful owners of the facility — deserve to know what its future may hold.