The following article is from Arkansas Hospitals magazine, a custom publication of Vowell, Inc., which also produces Arkansas Money & Politics.
by Nancy Robertson, Senior Editor
When many close family members are involved in the health care industry, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself working in the field as well. That’s what happened to Scott Barrilleaux, CEO at Drew Memorial Health System in Monticello.
His two older sisters each hold PhDs, one in nursing and the other in statistics. And his brother-in-law is a health care attorney. “I have had exposure to the health care industry for years, and it seemed natural for me to follow that same path myself.”
So, in the mid-1990s, he went to work for a company that sold rehabilitation and durable medical equipment. “It was work I enjoyed, but an unusual set of circumstances led me down another path in the medical field – the path of hospital administration.”
Barrilleaux had been considering entry into the Tulane University master’s program in health care administration. One day while playing golf, his group came upon another group, and they started playing together.
“We were involved in friendly conversation, and one of the guys asked what I did for a living. I told him about my work, and that I was considering the Tulane University program,” Barrilleaux says.
“He told me he highly recommended the program, because he was the program director!”
Barrilleaux entered the program and was nearing completion of the course of study when his employer decided to close the doors of his business. Each employee was given three months’ notice, so Barrilleaux decided to use this time to explore how to break into a career as a hospital administrator.
It is often said, “if you can see it, you can be it,” and Scott Barrilleaux is living proof that this is true. He set a goal, then went to work making it happen.
“I visited with the chair of the American College of Healthcare Executives in my home state of Louisiana, and he said he would give me the names of people to talk with,” Barrilleaux says. “I’m going to give you three names,” the exec said. “I am willing to tell you how to get there, but not how to drive.”
Barrilleaux talked with the hospital CEOs shared by the ACHE exec. He asked how to find a job as an administrator. One of the leaders knew that the hospital at Kinder, Louisiana was ready to begin interviewing for a new CEO. Barrilleaux got the position.
That was in 2002. He took his determination in finding a job as an administrator and transferred this energy into being a successful hospital leader. Barrilleaux took his first hospital from a $4 million operation to a $14 million operation. The secret to his success? Dedication to helping hospitals and the communities they serve. “I love what I do,” he says. “I love building systems that help a hospital staff make a real difference.”
Barrilleaux has since served five other hospitals: Neshoba County General Hospital in Philadelphia, Mississippi; Logan County Medical Center in Guthrie, Oklahoma; Homer Memorial in Homer, Louisiana; Madison Parish Hospital in Tallulah, Louisiana; and now, three years at Drew Memorial Hospital in Monticello.
He is most proud of the expansion occurring currently at Drew Memorial. “Before I came to Monticello, there was a desire by the community to build a new surgery center. One of the first things we did was to do a market analysis to find out what type of brick and mortar operation would make the most sense for the community,” he says. Growth is important, but growth through smart investments that meet the community’s needs is even more important.
After confirming the community need, they did, indeed, decide to build a new surgery center – one to replace the original built in 1975. Also included in the expansion are a new obstetrics area, outpatient clinic space and a complete overhaul of the hospital’s lab. “The slab has now been poured and there’s sheet rocking going on,” he says. “This is a very exciting time for our community.” The new facility will open in the summer of 2018.
The hospital is also undergoing a new branding campaign. “We are officially changing our name to Drew Memorial Health System,” Barrilleaux says. “Though we’re phasing in the name change, it will all be in place by the time of our grand opening next year.” The new name appropriately reflects the commitment of the Drew Memorial team to improving the health of its community.
Family led Scott Barrilleaux to health care, but dedication to improvement led him to administration and to the community he serves today.
Scott Barilleaux, CEO at Drew Memorial Health System
What are you currently reading for enjoyment?
My wife and I read Scripture a lot. It’s important to our life and our faith. I also read the news, but that isn’t always so enjoyable.
What would you do if you weren’t in health care?
I would probably be in my grandfather’s family business. Back in the days after World War II, he returned to Louisiana and was one of the only men in our parish who was French-speaking. He founded a plumbing business and soon had all the French-speaking families as customers. That business has grown and is still operating today.
Where is home?
I grew up in Thibodaux, Louisiana, and much of my family is still there. I love living in Monticello. The community is fantastic, plus it’s just a 6-hour drive to get back to Thibodaux and some of my Mom’s home cooking!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
One of the gentlemen I visited with on my quest to break into the world of hospital administration shared this: When you’re working with your Board and an important vote is coming up, always enter the room knowing exactly where the votes are before you even start the meeting. This has helped me over the years when it was time to introduce something new or challenging. It was great advice.