University Hospital and Clinics opens its doors

At least 23 patients in University Medical Center were re-admitted at midnight Sunday as the first patients of University Hospital and Clinics.

The transition was a “nonevent” with no disruption of services as the public hospital officially transferred management to Lafayette General Health, said David Callecod, president and CEO of Lafayette General Health, the system that manages Lafayette General Medical Center.

The hospital held a sign unveiling ceremony Monday morning at Bertrand Drive and Congress Street. Callecod, the hospital’s new CEO Jared Stark, hospital board members, administrators and area legislators worked to pull off blue tarps and reveal the hospital’s new name.

Lafayette General entered a $15.8 million annual lease agreement to take over operations of the public hospital effective Monday.

As of Monday, UHC employees included 511 former UMC employees, eight Lafayette General employees who transferred and 65 new hires, Callecod said.

The future growth of existing and new programs at the hospital will be directed by Stark, an Indiana native who started his new job last week.

Stark said that in the past week he’s witnessed the compassion and passion of the hospital’s staff.

“The community has a real gem here,” he said of the hospital.

The sign unveiling ceremony brought together members of the public too, including Oliver Henry, a retired UMC nurse who continues to visit the hospital as a patient of the Family Medicine Clinic.

“I’ve come to say goodbye to the old and welcome the new,” said Henry, 66. “I think it is wonderful. I like Lafayette General and the whole idea. I hope this brings some new inspiration to the employees.”

UMC’s employees should be credited for the years of holding the hospital together with “rubber bands and duct tape” as its budget continued to be siphoned, said State Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks.

Budget cuts in early 2012 reduced, and in some cases stripped, the public hospital of some of its services.

Lafayette General’s takeover enables the hospital to restore some of those health services. The first will be an orthopedic clinic that will open July 1, which is timed with the arrival of new residents who will have the opportunity to train at both UHC and Lafayette General.

The new management plans to increase the number of doctors training by 18, Callecod said. There are 64 training slots for residents at UMC.

Legislators credited Lafayette General administration and its board for working with the state and LSU to prevent what Mills described as a “catastrophe” if the hospital would have closed or faced any more cuts.