We all tend to jump to conclusions when we first read or hear a breaking news story. Oftentimes, this first impression changes when new facts and context are provided on the story.
The recent story concerning LSU Health Shreveport Medical School and Chancellor Ghali is one that lends itself to further context before judgment is rendered. From the perspective of a physician and alumni of LSUHS Medical School, community education activist, and supporter of community development efforts through the Chamber of Commerce, I know the future of our medical school is integral to our community.
LSU Health Shreveport Medical School has been and will continue to be an important foundation block for North Louisiana. We are blessed that North Louisiana leaders in the generation ahead of me worked day and night to establish the medical school. It is now the fifth largest employer and is a primary reason we have such a robust healthcare system in our community.
I do not know all the facts related to the recent news story concerning Dr. Ghali – none of us do yet. I do know the last few years have been difficult for our medical school and its leadership. I know that these recent concerns are now a re-expression of those previously voiced and investigated and I know the previous Title IX investigation did not reflect negatively on Dr. Ghali.
I know Dr. Ghali has had to work through the immense expense of the state’s decision to privatize the hospital as well as great uncertainty around the conversion of our charity health system from the LSU system to private providers. All of this uncertainty has been magnified even further by the COVID pandemic of the last 14 months.
I know that Dr. Ghali has led LSUHS Medical School well through a difficult time. Dr. Ghali has restructured faculty pay while retaining and recruiting excellent department chairs. At the same time, the research enterprise at the school has been revitalized.
I know Dr. Ghali understands the negative consequences of physician shortages in Louisiana and has been actively building the infrastructure to support continued growth in medical student class sizes at the school. He has worked through hospital/clinic partnerships with Ochsner and Willis-Knighton to strengthen the clinical presence of the medical school and worked with Christus to save the former Christus Schumpert medical complex in the Highland neighborhood. He understands both the worlds of academics and private practice because he has worked in both.
I know his faculty had an idea for an Emerging Viral Threat lab and later developed the first mass COVID vaccination site in Louisiana. He developed the finances and resources to support these key community initiatives.
I know that he has built relationships with stakeholders and tirelessly battled for the best interest of our school in Washington DC, Baton Rouge, and here in North Louisiana.
I know he truly loves the school and our Northwest Louisiana community – something we might not get in a national search for someone else. We have seen what seems like a great idea at the time turn sour in the most recent searches for the President of the LSU system.
Dr. Ghali has made it clear he welcomes a complete investigation into any allegations. When this is done, I hope we will be willing to put this story in with the tremendous advances in leadership at LSUHS Medical School over Dr. Ghali’s tenure.
Like you, I certainly understand the importance of the medical school to our medical community and our community as a whole. We all need to be willing to stand up in support of our medical school.
Dr. Phillip Rozeman is a practicing physician. He is past Chairman of the Shreveport Medical Society and Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce. He has been honored with the John Miciotto Lifetime Healthcare Achievement Award.