Iberville Parish and Ochsner Health System Extend Letter of Intent

PLAQUEMINE, LA and BATON ROUGE, LA- May 18, 2011 - Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso, Jr., and Mitch Wasden, CEO of Ochsner Health System Baton Rouge Region announce today the signing of an extension of the previously executed letter of intent to explore the development of a free standing emergency and ambulatory care center that will be part of Ochsner Health System. The center will provide residents with access to emergency care treatment and related ancillary services.

The facility will be constructed, owned and leased by Iberville Parish to Ochsner. Ochsner will provide healthcare services and be solely responsible for its medical operations clinically and financially.

"We have worked very hard to get a strong medical provider interested in coming to Iberville," said Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. " "The negotiations on this partnership are proceeding well, but are very complicated and take time. That is the reason for the extension of the letter of intent. I want to assure residents that I am doing everything possible to both bring a medical facility to Iberville and also to make sure our federal hurricane funds are used wisely." A portion of the parish's $44 million in federal hurricane recovery funds will be used to build the medical facility.

The letter of intent is non-binding and extends through June 30, 2011, at which time the parties are required to have completed a mutually acceptable binding definitive agreement. Prior to the execution of the definitive agreement, Iberville Parish and Ochsner will come to agreement on the size of the facility to be built, the scope of services to be delivered, and the number of employees who will work at the facility. The Parish will also seek the approvals necessary for the allocation of funds made available through the Louisiana Office of Community Development – Disaster Recovery Unit for the expenditures of the needed property, construction of the facility and equipment to be leased to Ochsner.

Iberville Parish has been without a hospital facility since River West Medical Center closed in early 2009 following Hurricane Gustav in September 2008.

"Ochsner continues to be encouraged with the progress on the Iberville Freestanding ED project. It appears in these first few months of work that Ochsner and Iberville Parish will be able to create a long term partnership which will serve the needs of residents of the area", said Mitch Wasden, CEO of Ochsner Health System-Baton Rouge Region.

Ochsner Health System, including Ochsner Medical Center in Baton Rouge, owns and operates 8 hospitals and more than 38 health centers in Louisiana. Ochsner employs more than 1,000 locally, including nearly 100 physicians. Ochsner Baton Rouge is part of Ochsner Health System, southeast Louisiana's largest non-profit, academic, multi-specialty, healthcare delivery system.