Katie Hebert, CEO of University Hospital & Clinics, sat down with Jan Swift of Discover Lafayette to share her mission of providing top-quality healthcare to all in need. Katie believes UHC is the best-kept secret in healthcare options in the region and her passion for serving as CEO at this teaching hospital is a testament to the compassionate care delivered to our most vulnerable neighbors.
Katie Hebert’s father, Dr. Bernard deMahy, was a third-generation physician who served as a family practitioner in St. Martinville. Family docs in his day handled everything from setting fractures to delivering babies. As one of twelve children, Katie loved growing up in this small town where everyone knew everyone else, and the experience of watching her dad lovingly help others shaped her formative years and inspired Katie to focus on healthcare as her vocation.
Katie began her career as a respiratory therapist with an associate’s degree. By the time she was 27, she had three children and earned a degree from USL, then went to LSU to earn her Masters of Science in Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation. She worked her way up in hospital administration, having started in cardiac rehab, then spending fifteen years at Dautrieve Hospital in New Iberia in various management positions. She served as Administrator of Lafayette General Surgical Hospital, and CEO at St. Martin Hospital until April 2015 when she joined University Hospital & Clinics as COO. In September 2016, Katie was named CEO of UHC.
Under the leadership of Lafayette General’s CEO David Callecod and a strong board of directors, St. Martin Hospital was the first hospital taken over by LGH as it expanded its reach throughout South Louisiana. During Katie’s tenure as CEO, the hospital was renovated, its ER was expanded and out-patient services were added. (Karen Wyble is now serving as its CEO.) Katie emphasized that Lafayette General doesn’t want to compete with rural communities, but wants to partner with them and keep the setting of healthcare where it is needed to give support to patients and allow them to stay close to home as they receive care.
A little background on the history of our “Charity Hospital” system: It started out as Lafayette Charity Hospital located on St. Mary Blvd. as an indigent care provider in the 1930s, offering 50 patient beds. In the early 1980s, Charity Hospital moved to its current location at Congress and Bertrand and was renamed University Medical Center (UMC). Lafayette General Health System took over the management of UHC in 2013 and that is the point when Lafayette General Medical Center announced new leadership positions and created “Lafayette General Health System.”
UHC is a full-service hospital but also serves as an academic facility/teaching hospital housing medical students in Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Sports Medicine, and a Geriatrics Fellowship that stay for three years. It partners with LSU to host residents who rotate while being trained in General Surgery, OB/GYN, Ophthalmology, Urology, Otolaryngology, Cardiology, and Orthopedics. Dr. James Falterman serves as Associate Dean for LSU at Lafayette who serves as LSU’s Institutional Official.
The presence of a teaching hospital in our region is critical to retaining physicians in Acadiana as most doctors remain in the area in which they train. When you hear of a shortage of physicians nationwide, it is due to the expense of setting up a residency program and also the difficulty in attracting students. Many students enter residency programs and give up their education due to the hardships of debt load and the time restraints in completing their residency. UHC is working to recruit specialists such as gastroenterologists, rheumatologists, endocrinologists to open clinics to give access to care in these critical areas in need. On any given day, UHC treats 800 patients in the clinics. In the ten clinic spaces, there are 22 specialties being offered.
UHC plans to open its expanded Urgent Care Clinic on Bertrand/Congress in Fall 2019, which will be open 12 hours a day on Monday through Friday, and 8 hours a day on Saturday and Sunday. The intent is to educate patients that they can avoid the Emergency Room at UHC and still receive proper access to healthcare. Inasmuch as ER treatment is the most expensive option to select for treatment, the Urgent Clinic is expected to be a game-changer.
A myth is that only Medicaid Patients choose UHC as their healthcare provider, when in fact many patients utilizing private pay and managed care plans are also treated. Over the past few years, about 54,000 unique patients per year have selected UHC for their healthcare needs. “Unique” refers to an individual patient, and some unique patients may end up at UHC four to five times a year. Half of the patients presenting at UHC reside outside of Lafayette Parish.
For the second year in a row, UHC has been selected as Modern Healthcares’ Best Places to Work. Katie shared that employees love working at UHC and when hiring, the administration takes special care to select employees that want to serve and enjoy their work. Positive patient experiences are at the forefront of UHC’s care model and hiring choices are of the utmost importance in maintaining quality outcomes.
Katie focuses on the people they heal every day, and what tugs on her heart most are patients who have needs but struggle with “social determinants of health” that prevent them from accessing needed medicines, paying their rent so they can maintain a safe place to stay, having transportation to receive access to follow-up healthcare, and many other factors that prevent a positive and sustainable return to health.
Our community is dependent on the work of UHC and fortunate to have Katie Hebert serving as CEO. Her heart and talent have proven to be transformational in health outcomes as well as patient and employee satisfaction rates. For more information on UHC, please visit