Kevin Frank, CEO of Acadian Medical Center in Eunice, said as of Wednesday the hospital began operating under its own license. Frank has been CEO at the hospital since 2018. (Photo by Harlan Kirgan)
Acadian Medical Center takes a new turn
By Harlan Kirgan
Acadian Medical Center this week is embarking on a new course as it begins operating under its own license.
The Eunice hospital has operated as a campus of Mercy Regional Medical Center in Ville Platte, but as of Wednesday the two facilities, both owned by Allegiance Health Management, of Shreveport, began operating with their own licenses.
Kevin Frank, hospital CEO, said the only difference the public may notice is Acadian Medical Center will lose the Mercy tagline on its signage.
“It brightens the future for this hospital as well as Mercy,” he said.
The facilities will become 49-bed hospitals in a move to capture more Medicaid funding, Frank said.
“We have a lot of Medicaid population. It is going to help secure it and make the future of these hospitals more stable,” he said of the change.
The hospitals were linked for a combined 109 beds in the past to capture Medicare funding. That funding is no longer available, he said.
Now, it is more advantageous to get the Medicaid funding, he said.
All hospital services will continue. “We are a full-service hospital,” he said.
“Patients and the community won’t see any difference,” he said.
The 90,000-square-foot hospital, which opened on a 25-acre site in 2006. The site also includes the Physician Plaza to bring the facility up to 124,000 square feet.
Services include 24-7 emergency care, pediatric, outpatient rehabilitation, radiology, surgical, laboratory and cardiology.
Specialists rotate through Acadian Medical Center to offer services found at much larger facilities.
Acadian Medical Center has a family practice clinic at 151 Hill St. in Eunice and another in Basile. The Hill street location includes a business office.
The off-site business office reflects a reality of health care now often dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Acadian Medical Center has limited access to the hospital and screens visitors.
“The hospital business is difficult and being a rural hospital it is even more difficult,” Frank said of the pandemic.
“Being in the pandemic situation like this ... is going to be financially devastating to many hospitals across the nation,” he said.
“The Louisiana Department of Health is predicting half of the hospitals throughout the U.S. have negative margins...” he said.
Hospitals were hit hard by limitations on the procedures that could be performed during the shutdown intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
When the state moved to Phase 2 of its recovery the procedures restarted and with that a new issue developed.
“One of the things for us and many hospitals throughout the country is staffing. Now that volume is coming back, we need nurses. We have open positions. We just recently significantly increased our sign-on bonuses for even new nurses. We have big sign-on bonuses for experienced nurses,” he said.
Acadian Medical Center employs 335 people and the virus situation has slowed the application process for many jobs, he said.
There has been an increase recently in COVID-19 cases and hospitals are experiencing patient population increases.
Hospitals throughout the state are starting campaigns urging hand-washing and mask use as the flu season approaches, he said.
Frank emphasizes the advantage of people using the community hospital.
Acadian Medical Center provides the services it can be good at, he said.
There will be other announcements about Acadian Medical Center, he said.
The hospital’s owner, Allegiance Health Management, is committed to community hospitals and recently bought the Ruston hospital, he said.
Allegiance owns 16 hospitals in four states, according to its website.
Acadian Medical Center and Mercy Regional Medical Center were acquired by Allegiance in 2018.