Lesleigh Hall – St. Tammany Health System
On a blustery Friday afternoon in 2022 when most people were thinking fondly of the weekend, Lesleigh “Les” Hall was pouring over 150 medical charts.
She was auditing the charts to ensure St. Tammany Health System remained in compliance with the regulations of the 340B Drug Pricing Program. Administered under the Health Resources and Services Administration, the program allows hospitals and other medical facilities that treat low-income and uninsured patients to buy outpatient drugs at discounted prices.
“We qualify for the 340B program because we are a disproportionate share hospital that serves low-income patients,” she explains. “Losing eligibility could lead to cutting back on what we do to support the health of our surrounding communities.”
Since the 340B program is subject to a high level of government regulation, Hall works closely with the system’s director of the pharmacy, Wendy Talley, and the outpatient pharmacy manager, Kelly Null, to maintain program compliance. Since being hired in October 2007, Hall has become well versed in the health system and now serves as the assistant vice president of legal affairs.
“Staying program compliant means about $8 million a year between savings and revenue to the system,” Hall says. “These funds are used to provide uncompensated care and new or enhanced services, like the addition of five beds dedicated to pediatric intensive care instead of our patients having to go across the lake to New Orleans for PICU.”
Hurricanes, pandemics and savings
While the 340B Program work is essential, it makes up only about 20 percent of Hall’s daily responsibilities. The main campus hospital has 281 licensed beds and is part of the larger system, which consists of 29 locations in Western St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana. The hospital provides services ranging from surgery, cancer and primary and specialty care to outpatient rehab and a women’s pavilion.
Hall is focused on becoming as efficient as possible, so that colleagues can devote less time to administrative work and more time to patient care. One way she’s doing this is with the implementation and integration of a system-wide contracting system.
“We took a really hard look at our contracts process and the amount of money we were spending on it,” she says. “By implementing a new software system, we have streamlined work from paper to an exclusively electronic process.”
Efficiency and savings are particularly important, according to Hall, for unexpected situations like COVID-19, which changed everyday life. Now, St. Tammany colleagues are tracking health data related to the pandemic and pandemic-related expenses, such as dollars spent on hiring supplemental staff or ordering personal protection equipment.
“The pandemic isn’t the only unexpected expense, either,” Hall says. “We experience damage to our physical plant during Hurricane Ida—to the point that two of our off-campus facilities are no longer in use.”
Setting sights on legal from a young age
While most children wouldn’t say they want to be a lawyer when they grow up, that’s precisely what Hall did.
“I was in the first grade for professional day, and we had to dress as what we wanted to be—so, I put on a little business suit and grabbed my dad’s suitcase because I wanted to be an attorney,” she recalls with a laugh. “A teacher told me I’d get to boss people around as an attorney—but I have learned that being the boss is not as fulfilling as helping our talented clinicians provide excellent patient care.”
Later in life, when she started her undergraduate studies at Louisiana State University, she majored in political science in preparation for attending law school. While studying, she also worked in physicians’ offices, falling in love with medicine. When she returned to LSU to attend law school, she sought to combine the two interests, taking as many health law classes as she could.
After graduating in 2007, she was hired as an attorney with St. Tammany Health System and has stayed there. She particularly likes working with her boss, Midge Collett, the vice president and chief compliance officer. She says the two make a great team, and that she’s learned much from Collett.
“This has been my only job since I graduated from law school, and I have no plans to go anywhere else,” Hall says. “I love the work I do and combining law and health care allows me to help so many.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Winter I 2023 Edition here.
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