Board to have different look in December

Iberia Medical Center Board Chairman Larry Hensgens said board member Burton Cestia had sat at his last board meeting. Current board member David Benson will assume Cestia’s seat and Dr. José Mata will assume the medical staff seat Benson formerly held.

The Iberia Medical Center Board of Commissioners will look a little different come its December meeting.

As a result of legislative changes made earlier this year to the hospital district’s charter, the medical staff seat David C. Benson held is now a general seat. Dr. José Mata will assume Benson’s former medical staff seat in December.

In order to make room for Benson’s general population seat, attorney Burton Cestia will step down from the board effective Nov. 23.

“Mr. Cestia had a previous commitment, so he is not able to be here tonight,” Chairman Larry Hensgens said at the board’s meeting Thursday. “We hope he will attend the open session of the board in December so we can recognize him for his service.”

Hensgens said Mata will undergo an orientation to the board prior to the December meeting.

The changes happen as the Iberia Parish Council waits to determine the fates of Benson and fellow board member Frederick “Bozo” Metz. On Wednesday night, the council went into executive session to allow Metz and his attorney, Edmond Guidry, to answer allegations made against Metz in an investigative report commissioned in August. The council did not take any action Wednesday night and so far has not scheduled a similar hearing for Benson.

The reappointments of Metz and Hensgens were tabled at the council’s Oct. 23 meeting and are expected to be on the Dec. 11 IPC agenda.

The two terms expire on Dec. 27. A third contender, Roland Jeanlouis, has also expressed interest in being appointed to one of the seats. If Jeanlouis is appointed, then either Metz or Hensgens will also be absent from the December meeting.

The changes to the IMC Board’s appointment process grew out of confusion that arose in the fall of 2018, when Benson and Mata both submitted their own resumés to the IPC when former member Larry Nelson was up for reappointment. After a legal review, Nelson was declared term limited. The IMC’s Medical Executive Committee recommended Mata, but the IPC voted to appoint Benson instead.

That decision led to meetings between the hospital administration, parish council and medical staff to reach a compromise for future appointments. The IPC will approve at large appointments, but the hospital’s Medical Executive Committee will appoint the two medical staff members of the board.

On Thursday night, the IMC board also announced a new physician. Rehabilitation specialist Wayne T. Lindeman will join the staff of the hospital’s rehab center by way of contract through the LHC Group.

Another physician, Kelsey Webb, made her case for being allowed to continue renting office space from the hospital. According to Webb, she understood that the reason that option was being taken away is because she is not a member of the active hospital staff.

“I understand this is because those physicians do not refer patients to the hospital or to its staff,” Webb said. “I refer patients to physicians, to surgeons, to the hospital, on a regular basis.”

She said she has made more than 1,500 referrals to the hospital’s imaging center alone.

“I would like you to know I am integral to this community,” Webb said. “I don’t know if I am the only one who received this letter, but I’ve been here for 16 years, so I am not going anywhere.”

Hensgens said he would follow up with the administration to get an answer for Webb.

In other business, the board:

• Approved refurbishing the second HVAC chiller at the North Campus for a price of $186,733. The first chiller was replaced in August 2018.

• Approved the purchase of a deaerator tank for the North Campus at a cost not to exceed $250,000. The deaerator treats water prior to going into the hospital’s boiler system to prevent corrosion and other damage to the heating system.

“We will be coming back to replace the one on the main campus,” Chief Operating Officer Shane Myers said.

Interim Chief Operating Officer Dionne Viator also announced that RN Supervisor Chad Langlinais was selected as the hospital’s Employee of the Year.

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