Abbeville General CEO Michael Bertrand II
More than 20 years ago, while in the early stages of his career, Michael Bertrand II served as the employee wellness director for Abbeville General.
Bertrand reported directly to Ray Landry, Abbeville General’s CEO. One day, Landry asked Bertrand what he wanted to do with his career.
Bertrand answered, “I would love to be in your position one day.”
Landry provided Bertrand with a list of objectives to help potentially reach that goal.
“He gave me a lot of good recommendations,” Bertrand said.
Earlier this year, he received the opportunity he said he wanted, when the Board of Abbeville General announced that Bertrand would succeed Landry as CEO upon Landry’s retirement. Bertrand officially assumed the role on May 2.
“I’m really glad to be back here in town,” Bertrand told members of the Kiwanis Club of Abbeville on Sept. 20. “I’m anxious to keep the hospital moving in the right direction. There is new technology, such as robotic surgery and advanced software programs, I would like to explore and possibly implement in the future.”
An Abbeville native and the son of Michael and Annette, Bertrand has worked in leadership roles at Lafayette Surgical Specialty Hospital, the Neuroscience Center of Acadiana with Lafayette General Health, the New Iberia Surgery Center, Gulf States Health Services and Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette. Bertrand served as First Sergeant in 2004-2005 in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Louisiana Army National Guard in Abbeville.
Bertrand takes over at a time when there are certain challenges in health care, not only locally, but nationally.
“We’re in the process of recruiting,” Bertrand said of adding to Abbeville General’s nearly 500-person staff. “We’re still facing, like everyone else, a year when people are leaving for various reasons.”
Recruiting to a rural community may not always be easy, but Bertrand said things have worked from that standpoint.
“The good thing is,” Bertrand said, “a lot of our doctors are from the area. They want to come back and serve their community, like we all do. Some people just don’t want to be in the big city.”
Bertrand said Heidi Guidry, Abbeville General’s Chief Nursing Officer, summed up the feeling perfectly.
“She’s been there since the day she graduated school,” Bertrand said. “She told me the other day, ‘I don’t want to be in Lafayette. I want to take care of patients that I know.’ That’s the difference you get from us. You’re going to know the person who is taking care of you. I know a lot of people in town.
“That’s all we need, for the community to trust us to take care of their basic needs, and then get them to where they need to go.”
Bertrand said things are going well for the hospital, financially, with investments being made throughout.
“With the tax,” Bertrand said of the Hospital Sales Tax District No. 2, “that is a big help. When I walked in, I saw the upgrades to the hospital. It’s state-of-the art, along the lines of everything we had in Lafayette.
“It takes a lot to run it, but I was left with a great slate and a great financial status for the hospital.”
Abbeville General continues to expand its offerings to the community, not only through its main facility, but through its rural health clinics, AGH Clinic, Women’s Health of Vermilion, Pediatric Clinic, Erath/Delcambre Community Clinic and Maurice Community Care Clinic.
“You have to change the idea and culture that you have to go to Lafayette for medical care,” Bertrand said.
Kiwanis Club member, Dr. Gordy Landry, a retired dentist from Abbeville, said he is grateful for having Abbeville General in the community.
“I think some people don’t realize how good it is,” Landry said. “Some people want to go to Lafayette, just to go to Lafayette.
“I think we’re fortunate over here.”
More than 20 years ago, Bertrand said he wanted to be in the position Ray Landry held. Fortunately, Bertrand accomplished the goal. Now, he is taking on the challenge to show people exactly what Abbeville General can provide.
“It’s my job to change the face of that,” Bertrand said, “that you don’t have to go to Lafayette.”