Hospital partnership explored

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In a move that officials say will both improve the quality of services that American Legion Hospital provides and stabilize the hospital’s budget, American Legion and Lafayette General Health (LGH) have signed a letter of intent to explore a long-term lease agreement which will give LGH full control of management and operations of Acadia Parish’s largest hospital. 

LGH, whose flagship hospital is Lafayette General Medical Center, recently entered into a similar agreement with Breaux Bridge Medical Center. According to the leadership and staff at the Breaux Bridge facility, the move has yielded very positive results. 

“We have had nothing but positive feedback from the people in Breaux Bridge,” said American Legion Board Member Steve Stefanski, who is credited with spearheading the local agreement. “Not only will this help to improve the quality of services American Legion provides, but we will be able to move forward with improvements and upgrades that we have been hoping to complete for several years.” 

In 2005, the federal government changed the classification of American Legion from an urban hospital to a rural facility. The move ultimately cost the hospital approximately $1 million a year in funding and put several planned improvements, such as upgrading American Legion’s Emergency Room, on hold. 

“We have spent our money carefully and managed to maintain the quality care we provided during this time,” said Stefanski. “And we have kept up with any repairs that the hospital has required, such as leaking roofs and adding generators. But we couldn’t do the things that we’ve been wanting to do — to make our hospital grow into a major facility. 

“This was obviously the best avenue for us to take,” he added. “Lafayette General has been branching out and they want to see American Legion become a state-of-the-art hospital which will be available to Acadia Parish residents who can’t afford to wait to get to Lafayette. We’ll have competent people right here.” 

The agreement will allow Lafayette General Health to rent American Legion and manage the hospital’s current employees, giving training in areas where it’s required. They will also look to continually improve the hospital’s equipment to ensure that patients have access to the best treatment available. 

Stefanski was also enthusiastic about the fact Lafayette General Health is a non-profit organization.

“This will ensure that American Legion is not run like a business,” said Stefanski. “Hospitals should not be about making money, they are about saving lives and improving patient health. I truly believe that God has helped us ... the future for American Legion Hospital is looking very good.” 

American Legion Hospital Board Chairman Cason delaHoussaye, M.D., agreed. 

“The partnership with Lafayette General Health opens up tremendous opportunities for improvements  and growth at our community’s hospital,” he said.

“The goal of this partnership is to allow Acadia Parish residents to receive the highest quality health care right here at home in a modern patient-centered environment. We are excited about what this partnership means to the people in Acadia Parish,” delaHoussaye added.

“American Legion Hospital established a terrific foundation for us to build upon,” said LGH President/CEO David L. Callecod. “It is our intention to successfully look for a way to fully integrate American Legion into our health system while making the facility an even stronger community hospital in Acadia Parish.

“We believe this is possible and will work hard to formalize a long-term agreement over the next few months.”