Saturday, July 20, 2024

Putting their money where their mouth is

by BIZ. Staff

Ochsner invests in buildings, people & technology in NWLA

Nothing ever gets bigger or better without investing time, effort, and/or money. Ochsner LSU Health is putting in all three to make a difference in healthcare across northwest Louisiana.

The biggest signal of intent by the health system is its investment in the Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport – St. Mary Medical Center. The donated campus will go a long way towards meeting the needs created by expansion, especially with clinic visits up 25% and surgical volume increasing.

“It’s about creating a venue where we can grow. It’s a very positive thing in the community, a huge positive as a place to expand to. A lot of that building had been recently updated so it’s a great space, great location, and it really allows us to go to the next level,” said Dr. Chuck Fox, CEO of the Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport Physician Group.

A lot of the necessary updates will be able to put into that building, like $10M into an imaging center. That will drive traffic regionally and the proximity of related departments also creates a one-stop shop for patients.

Another big investment has been made in biomedical equipment. That sees them taking steps towards their goal of becoming THE healthcare system for northwest Louisiana. 

“Investment in technology allowed us to do a more sophisticated approach to healthcare and that will drive outcomes,” Dr. Fox said.

This means things like real time management of chronic illnesses using technology and mobile apps. And, the Transfer Center looks at dozens of hospitals and puts patients at the best location for them based on their disease. 

Another major area is investment in physicians and staff. That translates to jobs and more money in northwest Louisiana’s economy.

Dr. Fox noted that Ochsner LSU Health has brought in more than 100 physicians, which he called “profound.”

“You have a trickle down effect where those doctors hire nurses, assistants, buy a house, their kids have to go to school somewhere,” he explained. “And, the vast majority are coming from outside the area. These are high paying jobs, that’s a lot of disposable income.”

He credits the successful recruiting effort to Ochsner’s resources, saying the collaboration with the system’s physician group provides information and access to various realms of medicine. “There are a lot of people working to make this happen and the team moves with agility to make it seamless. You’re dealing with things like realtors, people touring schools, moving companies, leadership training. Not a day doesn’t go by where I’m not in this room recruiting someone,” Dr. Fox said. 

He noted Ochsner LSU Health has 200 people who form the foundation for the next 20 years, saying, “When you think of that as a workforce and the spin off from that, it’s profound. That’s 200 young, highly trained individuals to move forward in this health system. Weave that in with the education system and the opportunity is phenomenal. We’ve got big time talent in this institution and the people we’re bringing in are just as talented.”

Still, more access is needed, which sees more investments in urgent care centers and primary care clinics. Dr. Fox notes that Ochsner LSU Health is “getting off Kings Highway and creating access because the demand is there.”

Such as putting $500,000 into an underserved clinic, primary care clinic on St. Vincent Avenue to handle pediatric and adult population. 

“We have a huge Medicaid population that we’ve been tasked with proving outcomes for. We’re very sensitive to that and how we expand into that community. We’ve just got to create that access vehicle for the entire population of northwest Louisiana,” he explained.

It all speaks to Ochsner’s belief that the northwest Louisiana market deserves a modern healthcare system, Dr. Fox said. He said they took a gamble on LSU Health Shreveport and the hospital, but the talent will drive healthcare to a better place.

“It’s gone faster than we could have imagined. Soon, we’re going to cover more hospitals in south Arkansas and east Texas. The need is there and everything they have is going to give us tremendous advantages, he said. “Ochsner looked at our physicians and thought if we can keep them in this healthcare system, that will have organized, efficient effects.”

He said the LSU Health Shreveport took a chance on him years ago, and he promised that he  would come back and make a difference. Now, he will help others make a difference for decades to come.

“I think we have tremendous opportunities to change healthcare for NWLA and to be a part of that is a dream come true,” Dr. Fox said.

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