Local shifts in neuro business and Lafayette's No. 1 for business
LOCAL NEURO BUSINESS SHIFTS

A recent agreement signed between seven of Lafayette's neurosurgeons and Lafayette General Medical Center is turning out to be a major boost to LGMC's surgery business.

"Our neurosurgery business has been quite brisk, accounting for a lot of increased volume in surgery," says Donna Landry, LGMC's senior vice president/administration.

In mid-March LGMC and Lafayette Neurosurgical LLC, consisting of neurosurgeons Alan Appley, Thomas Bertuccini, Luiz DeAraujo, Stephen Goldware, Patrick Juneau III, Ricardo Leoni and Ilyas Munshi, announced the creation of a regional neuroscience center at the hospital. (The only neurosurgeon in town not affiliated with the group is Dr. Nancy Lynn Rogers, who practices at Women's & Children's.) Landry says plans call for the center to be established within the hospital's existing infrastructure. "There are no plans on the table for a physical building."

Neuroscience centers address clinical programs and patient services related to surgical treatment of the brain and spine, as well as neurological disorders such as stroke, dementia, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

The outcome of this reshuffling of neuro procedures is affecting the bottom line of Our Lady of Lourdes, which is already struggling to overcome a loss of cardiac and other types of surgical procedures from the year-old Heart Hospital of Lafayette and Lafayette Surgical Specialty Hospital ("Special Forces," April 27).

Six of the surgeons involved in developing the neuroscience center at LGMC are also investors in LSSH. Only Munshi is not. No brain procedures are performed at LSSH, according to Juneau, and the doctors will continue to do shorter stay procedures at the hospital, a for-profit venture also offering orthopedic, ENT, urologic and general surgeries.

Though the neurosurgeons have maintained their privileges at Lourdes, the clear mission of the new initiative is to consolidate the work at one facility. "Ultimately, that is the goal," says Juneau. "We think it's in the community's interest to have a center of excellence in one place. Trying to have two neuro centers in a community this size does not make sense."

Lourdes spokesman Berch Stelly says the group of doctors also negotiated with Lourdes. "We did present a plan to the neurosurgeons for establishment of a neuroscience center. We believe Our Lady of Lourdes is the most technologically prepared facility to establish a neuroscience center of excellence," he says. The Lourdes rep says he's unsure why LGMC's proposal was accepted over Lourdes' offer.

"There are concrete reasons we ultimately chose Lafayette General," Juneau says. "General has to provide all the infrastructure. It is a huge investment on the part of the hospital, [including] nurses, manpower, equipment. There is some financial incentive for us to build and run the center," he says, declining to release any specifics of the financial arrangement with the hospital.

Juneau says the doctors aren't sure what level of relationship they will maintain with Lourdes but that discussions are ongoing. "It would be nice to keep Lourdes in the mix. I don't know how it's going to shake out. We'll wait and see. I think a lot will happen in the next three to six months.

"Medicine is evolving, and we have to be open to change," Juneau adds. "It's a different world."

Stelly would not provide specifics on what percent of Lourdes' surgery business is related to neuro procedures. Landry says neuro has historically accounted for 11 to 18 percent of LGMC's surgery business.

As for the big issue at hand ' whether the trend toward boutique hospitals and specialized centers of care leaves room for two community-based not-for-profit hospitals in Lafayette ' Juneau says it's too soon to make the call. "I don't know the answer to that," he notes. ' LT

HUB CITY NO. 1 FOR BUSINESS

Lafayette ranked as the best place in Louisiana to do business, according to Inc. magazine's May issue, which also ranked Lafayette 68th in the country.

In determining the "Best Places for Doing Business in America," the New York-based monthly magazine examined 274 population centers, looking at job creation and job sector diversity.

Lafayette's index score of 60.9 is based on the job growth rate over the past year and the averages of employment data from 1994 to 2004, along with growth rates in sectors like manufacturing, health care, financial services, retail and hospitality. Lafayette's job growth rate in the past year is 1.1 percent and 6 percent over the past five years.

The biggest problem for businesses might be finding Lafayette workers. The latest job figures have Lafayette with 4.5 percent unemployment, the lowest in the state.

The Inc. ranking comes on the heels of similar accolades over the past couple of years. Last year Entrepreneur magazine named Lafayette one the most attractive cities for high-tech ventures, and in 2003 the Milken Institute ranked Lafayette first among the country's top 200 metros for growth in wages and salary. ' LT

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