Willis-Knighton Health System
BioJames 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 NeighborHealth 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.