James K. Elrod President & CEO Willis-Knighton Health System Shreveport, Louisiana
James K. Elrod grew up in Port Neches, Texas. He attended Baylor University
in Waco, Texas, where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and
a commission in the United States Air Force through ROTC. Following military service
in Japan, he attended Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri,
earning a Master’s Degree in Hospital Administration. He completed an administrative
residency at Baptist Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1964, and he also
completed one year of law studies at Jackson School of Law (Mississippi College).
In 2007 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science and Humane Letters by Northwestern
State University. He is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.
In 1965, at age 27, Elrod was named administrator of Willis-Knighton Memorial
Hospital, then a sixty-bed facility. As Chief Executive Officer, he has guided the
growth of Willis-Knighton into a major health network with a broad continuum of care.
Willis-Knighton includes four hospitals owned by the health system; a multispecialty
physician network with more than 320 providers; the Oaks of Louisiana, a retirement
community and nursing facility; Project Neighbor Health clinics addressing health
needs of underserved communities as well as Health Plus of Louisiana (HMO) which
offers health insurance coverage to companies in North Louisiana.
Elrod has served in leadership positions in many state and national healthcare
organizations, including Trustee of the American Hospital Association, chairman of
the Regional Policy Board of the American Hospital Association, Trustee of VHA, and
Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Louisiana Hospital Association and of its
Malpractice and Workers’ Compensation Insurance Trust Funds.
His community service includes membership and participation on the boards of
Bio-Medical Research Institute, Louisiana State Fair Association, Shreveport Chamber
of Commerce, Committee of 100, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, LSU-Shreveport
Foundation, KDAQ Public Radio, Salvation Army and Retail Merchants’ Association.
In addition, he serves on the advisory boards of LSU in Shreveport, Southern University
Shreveport and Bossier Parish Community College and is a member of the executive
committee of the LSU Health Sciences Foundation in Shreveport.
In 1997, Elrod was awarded the prestigious Business Leader of the Year by the
Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, the Universal Human Rights Service Award by the Human
Rights Commission and was elected to the North Louisiana Business Hall of Fame by
Junior Achievement. In 1999 LSU in Shreveport tapped him for the Pilot of the Year
Award, recognizing his commitment to education and community service. He was also
named one of the most influential people in North Louisiana during the past century
by The (Shreveport) Times. The James K. Elrod Professorship in Health Administration
was established in his honor at LSU in Shreveport in 2000, and was honored by the
same university in 2009 when it named its health administration program the James
K. Elrod School of Health Administration. In 2010, the Inner City Entrepreneur Institute
named its youth program the James K. Elrod BizCamp.
Elrod taught the Jacob’s Sunday School Class of the First Baptist Church in
Shreveport for more than twenty-five years. He is a rated pilot with multiengine,
instrument flight privileges.
Of note is his status as the longest-tenured hospital administrator in the nation,
having joined Willis-Knighton Health System 45 years ago. He is father of four daughters
and a son and is a proud grandfather to six grandchildren.