Baton Rouge has experienced many losses in the great flood of 2016, however, one person lost in this time should not be overlooked: William F. “Bill” Borne, the founder and former CEO of Amedisys, one of Baton Rouge’s few publicly traded companies. Going from the Bayou to Wall Street is a long journey that Bill accomplished with a laser focus. He didn’t do it alone. He had help, talented help along the way but it was his leadership that kept the company going in the direction of growth and innovation for 30 years.
Amedisys grew because it was the first home care company who treated acutely ill patients at home with hospital trained nurses using the latest drugs and technology. It led the way in tracking outcomes and measuring patients’ progress in real time with proprietary software. Amedisys continued to innovate with disease management programs to produce even better results for chronically ill patients. None of this happened by accident. It took vision and a constant struggle to fund growth and meet public market expectations. It was not a straight path. There were detours and many obstacles but Bill was relentless. His efforts were recognized when he was named Forbes “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2004. Many times Bill was told that a publicly traded company based in Louisiana could not be successful. He proved them wrong.
Because Bill was a nurse and had himself been on the front lines, he knew how difficult it was to care for complex and very ill patients. To inspire his employees he was not above assuming characters like General George Patton and bringing managers together to learn, be recognized and to have fun. The corporate culture is not unlike Southwest Airlines-- high goals, a lot of hard work but with some lighter moments.
There are lessons in this story for Louisiana entrepreneurs. Starting a company with your parent’s savings and a small group of talented people and growing it to change the delivery of healthcare sounds impossible, but that is the Amedisys story. This company hopefully provides a path for others to follow. Bill was an inspiration who always thought the impossible was possible. We will really miss Bill.
Barbara C. Carey
president, The Communication Institute