Lafayette General CEO David Callecod, right, hears remarks by Ochsner CEO Warner Thomas during a press conference to announce the completion of a merger between Lafayette General Health and Ochsner Health on Thursday, October 1, 2020, at Lafayette General Hospital. Lafayette General Health will now be known as Ochsner Lafayette General.

Merger of New Orleans-area-based Ochsner Health and Lafayette General Health seems like a good marriage, with both partners growing stronger for these bonds they’ve established. That shared institutional strength lends promises for better medical care and patient outcomes. That’s what hospitals are all about.

The two systems formally joined last week, but their plans were no secret. Ochsner has been weighing expansion along the Gulf South for several years. The systems signed paperwork last year moving toward the pact made final Thursday.

Measurable first-glance benefits for LGH are impressive. The larger, more influential Ochsner system — its’ hospitals include sites in New Orleans and Baton Rouge — will invest $94 million at what is now Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center, an investment that will reap the campus a new, six-floor tower with 48 more beds; 23 new mother/baby beds and 15 new neonatal intensive care unit beds; and expanded care for cancer.

Ochsner University Hospital & Clinics, following in Louisiana’s tradition of indigent care, will find more stable financial support and expanded health and wellness efforts.

Perhaps most important locally is the increase in available slots for new doctors: Some 48 residency positions will be added to Ochsner LGMC in addition to the existing 75 positions at UHC. Those positions and enhanced ties with LSU’s medical schools were prized by Lafayette General Health when it merged with UHC seven years ago.

Securing additional residency positions elevates LGH’s position as a teaching hospital. By securing new positions and attracting additional doctors to Lafayette, hospitals here will attract a steady corps of doctors who may practice permanently in Acadiana or nearby.

Beyond the influx of Ochsner’s investment in our local hospitals, the merger links two hospital systems with long-established roots in Louisiana that hold similar passion for providing excellent patient care. Lafayette General dates back to establishment of the Lafayette Sanitarium in 1911, which created what quickly became the most important medical outpost between New Orleans and the Texas state line.

Construction of a modern hospital in 1965 — Dr. Alton Ochsner Sr. was the speaker at its dedication ceremony — thrust Lafayette into a more favorable position for serving patients locally.

Now comes the affiliation with Ochsner and the continuing promise of enhanced medical care not only for Lafayette but for the surrounding communities where LGH was partnering with hospitals in Crowley, Kaplan, St. Martin Parish and more.

“We joined together not to just make health care easier to access but really to improve the health of our state,” said Warner Thomas, president and CEO of Ochsner Health.

The merger promises to do that. The agreement seems to be what David Callecod, president of Ochsner Lafayette Health, suggests it is: Momentous. Historic. A happy marriage.