Dr. Michael Garcia | South Louisiana Medical Associates

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Formed in 1978 as an educational affiliate Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation, South Louisiana Medical Associates (SLMA) today employs over 100 medical providers and hosts a successful internal medicine residency program at Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center. The organization also provides services at other local facilities and Teche Regional Medical Center in Morgan City. SLMA provides services in more than 28 specialties, including adult and pediatric primary care and specialty services in cardiology, neurology, critical care, high risk OB/GYN, ophthalmology, orthopedics and urology. This impactful institution is led by CEO and President Dr. Michael Garcia, a remarkable influencer in the Bayou Region community.

What path did you take that led you to where you are today?

“I started my career in electrical engineering working for Exxon in multiple states. I spent five years in that role before going back to medical school at LSU Shreveport. I completed my General Surgery Residency at Ochsner in 1994 and started at Chabert shortly after. I chaired multiple committees and became the Chief of Surgery for several years.

In 2005, I was asked to be the Medical Director at Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center and took over as CEO at South Louisiana Medical Associates (SLMA). I continued to grow at SLMA and became the President of the organization three years ago when Dr. Frank Riddick stepped down. Although I’m no longer the hospital Medical Director, I continue as an attending surgeon involved in surgical resident training.”

What is the biggest challenge you have faced over the years and how did you meet it? 

“My greatest challenge was not in switching careers between engineering and medicine, but rather enduring the rapidly changing field of healthcare, which has strong negative affect on physicians and physician autonomy with their patients. It’s a daily struggle to lead the organization into areas of success considering these headwinds.”

How do you see your company changing in the next five years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?

“One major area of change that we are working to address are federal laws regarding physician reimbursement for work performed and the radical change from the fee-for-service model to the quality and cost model, which most people are unfamiliar with. Keeping the company profitable through this ongoing change is the challenge.”

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“Don’t ever let them beat you. Whoever that is or whoever they represent, don’t let them beat you.”

What has been your greatest accomplishment? 

“My number one greatest accomplishment was to have the opportunity to raise my two sons to be successful young men. Second, was to be able to transition from one successful career to another.”

Who has been your greatest influencer on your path to success?

“Throughout my career I’ve have received advice from multiple people. Before medical school, my greatest advisor was my uncle. During residency, my greatest advisors were the teaching faculty at Ochsner. As an SLMA leader, my greatest advisor was Dr. Frank Riddick. So, I must say it changed throughout my career. “

How are you going to impact the Bayou Region in 2020? 

“I will continue to participate in community efforts by becoming the Chairman-elect of the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce, the President of TEDA and continue to lead SLMA in the direction of high-quality, low-cost healthcare at Chabert and other locations in the Bayou Region.”

How do you start your workday?

“Reading e-mails and discussing patients with our residents.”

Outside of work, what is something you are passionate about?

“I enjoy visiting with my family, including my brothers and sister. I travel to visit with my uncles and family in Texas any time I get. I also love traveling with my wife on our vacations, especially to Europe to visit historical sites from World War II.” •