Parkland Health & Hospital System has named Dr. Fred Cerise as finalist to serve as chief executive officer of Dallas County's public hospital.
Cerise headed Louisiana State University’s charity hospital system, with 10 hospitals and related clinics, before Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration struck deals that turned over management of most facilities to outside companies.
The Jindal administration replaced Cerise with Frank Opelka in August 2012, after Cerise balked at the privatization plans. Since his ouster as hospitals leader, Cerise has been an associate dean at LSU's School of Medicine in New Orleans.
Parkland says his appointment is subject to contract negotiations.
Debbie Branson, of the Parkland Board of Managers, said in a news release that she likes that Cerise has been an outspoken advocate for public health care.
In August, Parkland passed a critical federal inspection of mandated patient care and safety improvements. In 2011, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services found serious problems in several areas of the public hospital that threatened patient safety.
Cerise told The Advocate that the Parkland job is “a nice opportunity.”
“It’s a big public safety net place. It has a good history to it,” Cerise said. “They have a lot of public support instead of debating whether they should exist or not.”
A former state health secretary, Cerise has been an out-spoken supporter of Medicaid expansion which would provide government health insurance to Louisiana’s working poor. Gov. Bobby Jindal has rejected the expansion.
The county hospital has been without a permanent leader since December 2011, when the hospital board refused to renew the contract of Dr. Ron Anderson, it’s longtime president and CEO. The hospital was mired in regulatory problems at the time.
When three CEO finalists were named last month, Cerise returned a phone call to explain briefly how he lost his job running LSU’s statewide health care system in 2012. The system included 10 public hospitals, 500 clinics and two public medical schools.
“The state decided to get out of the public health system and operate all but one of those facilities through private entities,” Cerise said.
“I didn’t think it was a good idea. I was hired to run the public system. I thought we did a good job.”