Local hospital has new leader

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 11, 2004

New CEO says familiar staff, new owners, is only a plus for St. John residents



LAPLACE – Scott Boudreaux came out of Holy Cross High School with a lot of career options.

He was an above average athlete and would have loved to have gone into sports.

But he took the more realistic path in looking at other professions, such as finance, business and even working as a stock broker.

“Like a lot of guys, I wanted to be an athlete,” the new River Parishes Hospital CEO said. “But I knew that I should get on with a real career and got my degrees in finance and business.”

Boudreaux had a lot of career options coming out of college at the University of New Orleans, but considering the new job he has taken on in recent weeks in St. John Parish, you might add circus performer to his resume.

No, there isn’t anyone calling Boudreaux a clown these days. It’s more about the high-wire, tightrope act he has accepted in today’s world of healthcare.

With insurance costs skyrocketing, billions needed for research and development, and the competitive nature of the health care field, Boudreaux sees it as a great challenge to make it all work and achieve his number one goal.

“Even though my job is certainly to help the hospital be fiscally successful, the bottom line for me and my enjoyment in the healthcare field is that I like helping people get healthier,” he said.

“It’s a pretty interesting role to manage a lot of different areas. I’ve got patient care and satisfaction on one hand, and of course the bottom line on the other,” he remarked.

But with such a great challenge facing Boudreaux, who recently became the new CEO at the River Parishes Hospital in LaPlace, it is amazing to see how optimistic he is about the daunting task facing him.

Boudreaux returns to River Parishes Hospital after serving here as a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) from 1988-90, and saw a few things that gave him cause for a positive outlook.

“I was very impressed to see how many people still worked at the hospital, who were here 17 years ago when I first started,” he said. “That says a lot about the facility and this area.”

And it is that nucleus of staff that Boudreaux is now heading to try and help the hospital assert itself locally.

“I think a lot of the public has seen some of these national CEO’s get millions of dollars in bonuses, so they figure every hospital executive, and the facility, is making huge money,” he remarked.

“The fact is that hospital to hospital, they have some of the lowest profit margins in industry,” he explained. “There are so many factors involved, and this all comes at a time when the last five years have seen insurance premium rises remain in the double digit numbers.”

The key challenges for Boudreaux are paying for the uninsured, surviving the low payback rate from Medicaid and Medicare, and human resource issues surrounding the national nursing shortage.

“Years ago hospitals were handling 4 to 5 percent of their business as uninsured. Today it is 10 percent of who we treat,” he noted. “That is a lot of money for hospitals to pay out since we have to treat anyone who comes in and has a threatening illness or disease.”

Additionally, he said, the great healthcare in our nation only makes people want it to be better.

“People really expect there to be continued breakthroughs in medicine,” he said. “But that costs billions of dollars in research money. Somebody is paying for that through healthcare costs, pharmaceutical costs or rising insurance premiums.”

Still, Boudreaux clearly felt good about things at River Parishes as he walked the halls, smiling at different employees and patting others on the back.

“We’ve just got such a great bunch of people here, and I think most people who come here agree with the high level of care we provide,” he said. “But the thing I think a lot of people don’t realize is what a full-service hospital we have. We can treat almost anything that someone has. But a lot of people still go to New Orleans and perhaps don’t realize we can handle their problems right here.”

He said that the hospital plans to market itself better in the future, just so that residents in the region are aware of the many services offered here.

Recently purchased by Lifepoint Hospitals, which specializes in smaller, community facilities, River Parishes already has a $5 million expansion and improvement plan in the works.

“Lifepoint has a high five level of service that focuses on the physicians, the community, employees, fiscal responsibility and the patients. That is a philosophy that I like,” he said.

Boudreaux, 47, lives in LaPlace with his wife, Joni, and they have three daughters, Lindsay, Danielle and Ashlee.