Dr. Michael Garcia – Bayou Region Influencers 2023

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Dr. Michael Garcia
Chief Executive Officer & President | South Louisiana Medical Associates

Successful career as an Electrical Engineer culminating as the Division Engineer for Exxon Pipeline- 1984
Successful career change to Medical Doctor graduating with honors in Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor society- 1989
Successful completion of a surgical  residency at Alton Ochsner General Surgery training program-1994
Attending Surgeon at Leonard Chabert Medical center working for South Louisiana Medical Associates (SLMA)- 1994
Appointed hospital and SLMA Medical Director- 2005
Appointed CEO of SLMA- 2005
Appointed  President and CEO of SLMA-2014

President, Terrebonne Economic Development Association
Past Chairman, Terrebonne Parish Chamber of Commerce
Board Member, South Central Planning and Development Loan Board
Recent Board Member, START corporation

Business Successes/Achievements:
Large Business of the Year, Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce-2011
44 years providing patient care, resident/medical student education, Leonard Chabert Medical Center
Successful creation and accreditation of the Internal Medicine Residency Program achieving board pass rates placing us in the top 3 programs in the state.

What led you to the role you currently hold in your company? Did you see yourself in this position when you started out in the workforce?  

No, I did not see myself in this position. When I started in medicine about 25 years ago, I was Attending Surgeon here at the hospital and involved in resident training. After about 10 years of that work, some of the leadership of the time had stepped out of this role, so I took it on, and I’ve been in this leadership position ever since. The majority of my job now is overseeing the running of the company.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced over the years, and how did you meet it? 
Definitely dealing with the diminishing reimbursements for physicians services. Every year we have struggled with this and the numbers have continued to drop every year, so maintaining salaries while navigating that part of the finances is truly difficult and requires a lot of strategic thinking.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I grew up wanting to be an electrical engineer, and I did go to college to do that work and held a position as an electrical engineer with Exxon for five years. I enjoyed it a great deal and still to this day enjoy tinkering with everything electrical. I made a mid-life switch to go back to school to be a doctor.

What was your first job, and what lesson did you learn from this job?
My first job was working with Exxon as an electrical engineer. It was part way through this job as I moved up through management with Exxon that I realized I wanted to go back to school to be a doctor and began that transition.

What piece of advice do you share with your team regularly?
I tell people to always do the right thing. We emphasize it in many ways, but those are the words, and how it is implemented is person-specific. If you disagree with another physician, then talk it out, and figure out why you disagree. Just do the right thing and when you do that, you will have more good days than bad ones.

What was your most fulfilling career moment?
I can think of two or three patient stories where I was intimately involved in patient care that led to very happy endings. That spans from a brand new baby that I got an airway on, to an elderly lady who couldn’t swallow due to cancer. The outcomes of those kinds of stories trumps everything else.  

What is the best part of working here in the Bayou Region?
Moving to Houma from the West Bank of New Orleans, I find that there are a lot of similarities to what I grew up with. It has made it easier to transition from one location to the other for me.

Who are your greatest influencers?
There are two people that provided the influence that led me down this path. My uncle, who owns a family practice in west Texas, is someone whose accomplishments I have always looked up to. Later in my career, Dr. Frank Riddick, who was Chief Executive Officer of Ochsner, was one of my closest friends and mentors until he passed away. His wisdom and his advice gave me great insight into what needed to be done.

How are you going to impact the Bayou Region in 2023?
Well, we are going to continue our work– we are a multi-speciality medical practice so we see lots of patients and deliver many needed services. From a personal standpoint, I will continue to serve as the President of the Terrebonne Economic Development Association (TEDA), and I am hoping to stay involved in the Association and the board as long as I can. I think that between our practice and TEDA, we have a lot of potential to help make Terrebonne Parish a better place.