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Willis-Knighton announces new president, chief executive officer

James K. Elrod (left) and Jerry A. Fielder II (right)
James K. Elrod (left) and Jerry A. Fielder II (right)(Willis-Knighton Health System Facebook)
Published: Sep. 11, 2021 at 7:20 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Willis-Knighton Health System has announced that President and Chief Executive Officer James K. Elrod plans to retire on Sept. 30. He is the longest-tenured hospital administrator in the United States, having served over 56 years.

Jerry A. “Jaf” Fielder II was unanimously selected by the Board of Directors to be Eldrod’s successor. Fielder has worked under Elrod for over 30 years and currently serves as a senior member of Willis-Knighton’s executive leadership team.

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, the medical staff, the management team and Willis-Knighton’s over 7,000 employees, we want to thank Mr. Elrod for his unparalleled contributions and indelible impact during his more than five decades at the helm of this organization,” said Board Chairman Frank Hughes, M.D., “Under his leadership, Mr. Elrod has grown Willis-Knighton from a small community hospital to one of the largest healthcare systems in Louisiana. We are fortunate that he will be President Emeritus and remain on the Board of Trustees so as to ensure a seamless changing of the guard.”

Elrod led the expansion of the original 60-bed hospital into a fully integrated care network consisting of four acute care hospitals with a rehabilitation institute, a multispecialty physician network and the state’s largest retirement community, The Oaks of Louisiana.

“Working with Jaf during the past 30 years of his career here, I have not just seen him grow and demonstrate his capabilities, I have seen his heart. His dedication to the health system, the medical staff, the employees and our community is unquestionable and, I believe, unshakable. He will have the support of a strong executive team, just as I have had, and they have a solid foundation on which to build” said Elrod. “I look to this wisdom of John F. Kennedy who noted: ‘Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.’”

Fielder joined Willis-Knighton in 1990 under the guidance of Elrod. He has held multiple senior roles across the organization, including Human Resources, administrator of Willis Knighton’s flagship hospital and chief operating officer.

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