By Meg Ferrante
Today’s healthcare environment is constantly changing, and, now more than ever, it is important for healthcare practices to have a robust, driven leader. The LSU Healthcare Network has found its leader in J. Christian Winters, M.D., FACS. Many physicians might be apprehensive to assume a CEO role along with being Vice-Chancellor of Clinical Affairs at the LSU Health Sciences Center and a practicing urologist at the LSU Healthcare Network. However, Dr. Winters did not see this as a challenge but more of an opportunity to lead an organization that provides the people of southeast Louisiana with top-notch healthcare.
“We have many outstanding clinicians who are leaders not only locally, but nationally,” he says. “I wanted to do what I can to help the whole practice be more accessible to patients in our region and deliver high-level care to everyone.” Across the state, the LSU Healthcare Network has more than 600 physicians covering nearly every available medical and surgical discipline from Lafayette, Baton Rouge, New Orleans and regions beyond. In addition to their clinical practices, most doctors are also researching new medical advances and teaching the next generation of physicians through LSU Medical School, residency, internship and fellowship programs.
It might seem that continuing in his busy urology practice (and being chairman of the department) would be a distraction from the demands of the network, but Dr. Winters says it enriches his leadership. The marketplace is changing. Experiencing those realities daily adds a certain perspective and dimension that someone without a medical background may not have.
However, it takes a team to run a successful practice. Dr. Winters knows how pivotal each member of the team is — from receptionist to surgeon and everyone in between. He applies a horizontal delivery methodology, where everyone works together equally and makes patients the priority.
“At the end of the day, our patients are our No. 1 priority,” he says. “Each patient is different. There are so many variables in the way things present; you handle each quite differently depending on patients’ issues, lifestyles and preferences. We want to empower each of our employees to be able to meet the individual needs of our patients and serve them better. We’re evolving, but already seeing progress.”
What have you learned about the prognosis of healthcare in Louisiana?
“Everybody knows the typical moniker: Louisiana is 49th in so many instances,” Dr. Winters says. “We have a long way to go in improving the health and engaging in preventative health lifestyle changes where we are lagging behind other states.
“In my opinion with LSU, the Medicaid expansion has been a positive thing. I’m seeing patients every day that did not have access to care before expansion. In preventative care, numbers are going up — mammographies, colonoscopies, screenings. These are all very positive things.
“In order for us to be able to continue this type of practice, we need to see the current paradigm of care evolve. We need to get to a point where the emphasis on wellness, screening and prevention result in a more healthy population with decreasing healthcare costs and improvement in our quality of life. Public education is key because wellness and prevention results in patients interacting with their clinicians when they are feeling well. Our primary care teams not only practice this, but they teach it and do research in many of these areas.
“Additionally, LSU is very passionate about expanding access to specialty care in rural areas of Louisiana where it does not currently exist. LSU hopes to address this challenge through telemedicine — remote diagnosis and treatment of patients who need access to specialty care.”
Why choose the LSU Healthcare Network?
“The LSU Healthcare Network is committed to providing quality healthcare to the New Orleans region and throughout southeast Louisiana,” Dr. Winters says. “I’m very proud of the services we offer at the LSU Healthcare Network. With over 30 specialties and numerous subspecialties, our network is dedicated to treating patients of all economic backgrounds.
“If you look at our head and neck, ENT, neuro surgery and oncology service lines for skull- and brainbased tumors, patients are coming from all over the country to receive the highest levels of care here. Our plastic surgery department specializes in everything from cleft and craniofacial surgeries to limb salvage, skin flaps, breast reconstruction and cosmetics. Our bladder cancer program is one of the more robust in the country. We enroll more people in clinical trials than any other. Our female pelvic floor surgery is the only accredited multi-disciplinary program in the South. Groundbreaking work in inflammatory bowel disease is being performed by our GI physicians, and our MS, ALS and peripheral neuropathy programs are bringing patients from all over the country to our neurology department. These are just a few to mention.
“Overall, I find the patients seem happier and clinicians seem more satisfied with their practices; to me that is a source of gratification. I’ll be first to tell you we still have a lot of work to do, to be complacent is the worst approach we could take. We’re very attentive to all our staff to try to see what barriers are in the way of them helping patients.
“I’m a local guy — born and raised in New Orleans. I am deeply motivated to see the LSU Healthcare Network do well, see New Orleans do well and be healthy. It is a big part of what has pushed me to get me to this point. We have much to be proud of and look forward to continuing to provide leading-edge medicine to southeast Louisiana.”
J. Christian Winters, M.D., FACS
3601 Houma Blvd., Ste. 302
Metairie, LA 70006
Medical School: LSU
Residency: LSU/Ochsner Residency Program, Urology
Fellowship: Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Female Urology and Voiding Dysfunction
Past-President: Society of Urodynamics, Female Pelvic Medicine and Urogenital Reconstruction (SUFU), American Board of Urology (ABU)