Hospital CEO touts progress to seniors

Published 10:21 am Monday, September 22, 2014

Rene Ragas took over as chief executive officer of Our Lady of the Angels Hospital less than four months ago, but the Buras native has some big plans for the facility.

Speaking before the local chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons at the Bogalusa Retirement Center, Ragas offered insight into what improvements the facility is planning in the near future. He said everything planned and done at the hospital is thought out carefully.

“The one thing our employees learned when we became a faith-based hospital is to pray a lot,” Ragas said. “We’re a transparent, open organization.”

The former Bogalusa Medical Center, which was owned by LSU Health Systems, became Our Lady of the Angels on March 17.

“The governor wanted to privatize safety net hospitals in Louisiana,” Ragas said. “We’re the last public-private partnership in the state.”

Ragas said Our Lady of the Angels is now owned by 16 elderly sisters of the Franciscan Order.

“We came here because the sisters are the core of who we are. Our mission is to serve the needy,” Ragas said. “The sisters live what they preach. Our organization is led by people who really live what they believe.”

Our Lady of the Angels has 410 employees and 150 accredited physicians. The Order also owns hospitals located in Monroe, Lafayette, Gonzalez, Napoleonville and Baton Rouge.

“We’re only located in Louisiana,” Ragas said. “We have 14,000 employees. When we go into markets, being a faith-based organization, there are no secrets. All the money comes back to the hospital. There’s not a pope in Rome or a cave where the money goes. If we make any money, it all goes back to raises for staff and paint on the walls.”

Ragas said the hospital offers all major services and acute care. He said the facility is also a major academic medical center where residents train.

Ragas said the hospital is adding staff almost daily. He said the hospital hired eight employees earlier in the week and has 20 new employees.

“We’ve got openings right now,” Ragas said. “We want people who are local. We’re trying to utilize local people for construction. We bought $8 million in lumber from Bogalusa Lumber.”

Ragas said the entire front of the hospital will soon be new after construction. Other improvements include an ER waiting room big enough to seat 45 people, along with a new chapel and meditation area. He said a gift shop for volunteers will be expanding.

Ragas said he likes what he sees at the hospital.

“We have 2,000 clinic visits per week,” Ragas said. “Our employees are excited and engaged.”

Ragas challenged the public to see what the hospital can do.

“Come give us a try and be patient as we expand the ER and bring a high quality of care,” Ragas said. “The best way to support our hospital is to give us a chance.”