Former New Orleans HCA pursuit still courting hospital giant

The chairman of a former HCA acquisition target is still courting the hospital giant, even after it pulled out of talks to lease the medical center in New Orleans.

Sheriff Newell Normand, chairman of the East Jefferson General Hospital board, has asked the Jefferson Parish Council to "formally invite HCA back to the table," The Times-Picayune reports. HCA bid $538 million to lease both West and East Jefferson Medical Centers in late 2013. Negotiations stalled, however, after conflicting recommendations from the two hospitals' governing boards and the Parish Council.

Officials with West Jefferson wanted Louisiana Children's Medical Center to lease both hospitals, while East Jefferson wanted HCA. In February, HCA withdrew its proposal.

"This process has simply gone on for too long, with no appearance of resolution and no end in sight," HCA MidAmerica Division President Mel Lagarde said in a brief statement. "We are not prepared to continue this process."

In May, the company said it would not re-engage in the process, but The Times-Picayune published an editorial Wednesday calling on the Jefferson Parish Council to make good on Normand's request.

"In fact, council members should apologize to HCA and promise to behave better if the company comes back to the table."

The Nashville company operates seven hospitals in Louisiana, and Normand reports he has "'open lines of communication' with the company."