After her father passed in 2006, Krystle Ferbos Duplessis returned home to New Orleans. Inspired by her grandfather, she realized the importance of preserving the culture and beauty of her community post-Katrina. He gained notoriety as the oldest active jazz musician in the city, playing his trumpet until his death at age 103.
“My grandpa was really an inspiration,” Duplessis says. “He was very dedicated to his music and practiced every single day. He really believed in being prepared.”
Duplessis attributes this love of preparation and flexibility of mindset to her successful navigation of a winding career until becoming associate corporate counsel with LCMC Health. The New Orleans-based, nonprofit health system focuses on providing exceptional healthcare in Louisiana and beyond. It’s a natural fit for Duplessis, who became familiar with hospitals at a young age due to her mother’s forty-year healthcare career.
Originally interested in pursuing medicine, Duplessis felt unsettled after freshman year at Howard University. “There was something telling me, ‘You might want to be in healthcare, but you don’t want to be a doctor.’” After graduating, Duplessis worked in the executive office of MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
It was during a conversation with an administrative resident that Duplessis found her calling. “When discussing hospital attorney or healthcare attorney roles, a lightbulb went off. I thought of my strengths as a strong communicator and writer and of my appreciation for healthcare. From there, I felt laser-focused.”
Duplessis now acts as the general counsel (GC) of New Orleans East Hospital and Children’s Hospital New Orleans, member hospitals of LCMC Health. She splits her time between each hospital, providing counsel on day-to-day operational matters to both executive teams, medical staffs, and other healthcare providers.
The position involves managing the hospitals’ contractual relationships, providing legal support to patient safety and quality departments, assisting with the development of hospital-wide policies and procedures, and supporting human resources concerning investigations or corrective actions.
LCMC Health created a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Steering Committee composed of system-wide leaders. In alignment with LCMC Health’s efforts, Children’s Hospital New Orleans also has a DEI committee, which Duplessis proudly serves on and supports.
“One of the things we’ve implemented is a change in language services to ensure optimal quality of communication,” she says. “It ensures patient safety with our limited English proficiency and hearing-impaired patients.”
At Children’s Hospital New Orleans, the DEI Committee purposefully strengthened their community partnerships, particularly with The 15 White Coats, one relationship Duplessis, as a woman of color, is particularly proud. The organization reinforces positive imagery of people of color in medical learning spaces worldwide, beginning with 15 Tulane medical students posing for a now-iconic photo at Whitney Plantation in Louisiana. “The work they’re doing is significant and will make a difference,” she says.
LCMC Health also dedicated to providing care to medically underserved areas. After Hurricane Katrina devastated the east side of New Orleans and two hospitals closed, the community struggled with the lack of accessible resources.
In 2014, New Orleans East Hospital opened and has served as a community and economic anchor in Eastern New Orleans. The pandemic only underscored the hospital’s importance as the first US hospital to partner with HUD to provide COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. Initially purchasing vans during peak COVID-19 to distribute testing quickly, New Orleans East Hospital pivoted to using the same vans as mobile clinics, visiting community centers, and various underserved areas.
Through the work of Children’s Hospital New Orleans, LCMC Health is dedicated to improving the health of children in Louisiana and throughout the Gulf South. Duplessis joined Children’s Hospital New Orleans two years into the hospital’s $300 million campus transformation. The expansion afforded new clinical care space, enabled the growth of signature service lines, and allowed the development of a new fifty-one-bed Behavioral Health Center. The new center provides critical support to children with mental health needs, a demand at an all-time high due to ongoing pandemic stressors.
Krystle Ferbos Duplessis also contributes significantly as legal counsel to a school-based initiative at Children’s Hospital New Orleans called ThriveKids, the Student Wellness Project. “Post-COVID, we started to develop more substantive partnerships with our education institutions. We saw a need to group our school-based initiatives under one umbrella. That’s how ThriveKids developed, and its goal is to change the health of a generation through education and wellbeing.”
After a career seeing multiple turns, Krystle Ferbos Duplessis believes she’s arrived at the right place. “Every experience prepares you for the next opportunity,” she says. While the Louisiana native could do this work anywhere, there’s only one place she wants to be.
“It’s been very rewarding to serve in these different roles in the city where I grew up and where I’m raising my daughter,” she continues. “My mom was really influential in terms of my interest in healthcare, but it was my dad, an actor, who inspired me to choose a career I was passionate about. Once I found something to marry the two, it just took off from there.”