The Early Years
“Lourdes Hospital Federal Credit Union” (LCU) started with a humbled yet visionary flare by it’s Federal Charter in January 1969. At this time, the administration of Our Lady of Lourdes recognized the need to enhance benefits for its employees, and that they could share in the success and growth of the medical facility through membership. Because many of the hospital’s support personnel worked near minimum wage, they did not have ready access to loans and quality services from local banking institutions.
The first Charter Members (Dudley Romero, Don Hebert, Vera Bordelon, Maria LeBlanc and Chester Sam) deposited $100 each for the first shares totaling a mere $500. The first Credit Union office was initially set up in a remote back room behind dietary (in the interior hallway near the pressure washing room). The very first loan was made to a porter in dietary to finance a bicycle for his travel to and from work.
After only four months, the Lourdes Credit Union’s shares had risen to $8,800 with 161 members, and by the end of 1969, shares had grown to over $24,000! This led to the very first dividend (4%) that was paid in June 1970 as assets had already risen to $36,000. From that point, members received dividends on a semi-annual basis.
Ms. Truce Jansen became the first Lourdes Credit Union employee, hired part-time in 1970 to manage the Credit Union’s growing momentum. Hours of operation were set from 8:00 am until 12 noon on Tuesdays and Fridays. During Ms.Truce’s administration, the field of membership was expanded to Lourdes volunteers, medical staff, and office staff of our physicians, and family members of their immediate households.
Truce also became the first retiree on staff as of October 4, 1997 after 27 years of service. The Board of Directors, on recommendation of the Credit Union’s independent auditor, presented Truce with a generous monetary stipend in gratitude for her talents and leadership in the formation years of the Credit Union since during her years of employment, the staff did not have a corporate retirement plan.
A New Era of Growth
The Board of Directors began earlier in search for a new manager to lead the Credit Union to new levels of growth and services. Lourdes Credit Union’s current independent auditor, had experience in this process and was hired to write the job description consistent with the contemporary industry standards and immediately begin advertisement for the position. The Board interviewed four applicants and two highly qualified finalists were invited back for a second round of interviewing. The Board overwhelmingly chose Ina Burchett who demonstrated the personality, qualities and skills needed for the Credit Union’s growth. Ina began on Monday, October 6, 1997 and immediately began rewriting the procedures manual to reflect the industry’s benchmark standards. The document was approved by the federal auditor under NCUA rules in that same year. In addition, the Lourdes Credit Union staff was brought into parity for benefits enjoyed by Lourdes employees.
The new Credit Union manager moved quickly to begin building services and a staff knowledgeable in the various services in which the Credit Union Board of Directors wished to expand. A new Loan Officer position was created and filled. Updated job descriptions were developed, and the Board also brought salaries into parity with other area financial institutions. The policy for personal loan applications was to keep the salary of the applicants confidential to the eyes of the Credit Committee.
With assets standing just below $5 million, the Board approached Dr. C. William Roe and his University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL) MBA class to produce a five-year strategic plan for the Credit Union. Through extensive planning, interviewing of members and non-members and compiling data, the MBA class presented their findings to the Board, Supervisory Committee, Credit Committee and staff at a luncheon meeting at Don’s Seafood Hut. They outlined a list of five primary goals: 1) A new location with more space and easier access, 2) Drive-thru service, 3) 24-hour night drop; 4) Debit card; and 5) ATM access. The Drive-thru and Debit/ATM card service would require the hiring of additional personnel. The MBA team also suggested changing the name to “LCU” for easy promotional identity.
The Board contacted their Federal Auditor, Ms. Lisa York, to determine what the Credit Union could afford with its capital and financial strength. The guidelines would allow up to $250,000 for the expansion project. Mr. Hammie Davis of Coldwell Bankers Real Estate was secured to look for properties for potential purchase, lease, building and/or renovation that would meet all the points of the strategic plan. Properties at this time were at a premium and land purchase alone would crunch the Credit Union’s allowed budget for development, leaving little thereafter to build at an estimated cost of $125/square foot ! The Board knew that wherever they would build or relocate, the members would come for financial services. The location would preferably be closest to the most populous members’ zip code section of town.
The Winds of Change Turn in Our Favor!
The medical center was also going through growing pains, and was also looking for adjacent properties for expansion. Property around the hospital began to rise in value at a steady rate. The LCU Board received word from an independent source that IPS Services and Uniform Shop located at 700 St. Landry Street (originally the Metropolitan Life Insurance building) was going out of business, making the building available for a new tenant. The partner-owner of the real estate was contacted about a possible lease. In the discussion, an offer by the Board Chairman to “purchase” the real estate was also explored. Lease/purchase cost over 30 years was compared, lending to a recommendation to purchase if the property would be offered for sale. The partners ultimately agreed to sell the property. A letter was sent to the National Credit Union Administration requesting the approval to purchase the property and begin renovations. With speedy approval from NCUA, the architectural firm of Guidry, Beasley Architects was contracted. An independent contractor was hired to remove green asbestos tile before construction began.
The floor plan would allow for over 1,700 square feet of appurtenant space for sub-lease. The hospital was also interested in rental space around the medical center, and quickly moved to lease the available space for its needs.
In August 2001, renovation was completed. A ribbon cutting ceremony and open house was held on September 5, 2001. Members began to enjoy a new location just a few steps across St. Landry Street, a spacious business lobby, drive-thru service, 24-hour drop, dual-layer security for employees and assets, private offices for member loan applications, and spacious parking in the rear of the building. An additional Member Service Representative was hired part-time for drive-thru traffic relief and debit card service. With membership increasing, this new position was expanded to full-time in January 2002.
The Board moved quickly to investigate the addition of ATM access for the planned ATM debit card; the final strategic item of the plan. Negotiations with three area banks ultimately netted access greater than what the Board had imagined. Rather than purchasing and installing an ATM on campus, debit card-holding members could now utilize their card with no transaction fees at any Capitol One ATM machine (except for casino and Jazz Cash machines which will incur a service fee). Members who have an LCU Debit Card can also access ATM machines, at other locations, that carry the VISA logo. A transaction fee will be charged at non-Capitol One ATM machine locations. With this acquisition of service, the Board realized all five points of the strategic plan in less than five years.
In 2003, the LCU Board embarked on a new strategic plan, which included continued growth in membership. The Board investigated expansion of services that would include home equity loans as a way to help assets grow at higher bearing interest. Southwest Corp, a federally insured company, was at that time paying very low interest on investments.
Also in 2003, with the potential of home equity loans, LCU investigated expansion of its field of membership. The Board contacted the administration of Acadian Ambulance to see if the company could benefit by joining this field of membership as a benefit to their employees. Acadian Ambulance was interested in a partnership of this kind, and the company compared LCU with at least one other Credit Union to see what would benefit their employees the most. Acadian Ambulance chose LCU as a partner because of its similar medical environment, and the vast access by their employees to Capitol One ATMs in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Name Change & Expansion of Services!
Our members are familiar with the many services offered by their Credit Union over the years that have made a difference in their personal and household financial planning. But little did our members know about the extended planning the Board of Directors made on their behalf. While many Credit Unions have struggled in the financial challenges of the past years, your Lourdes Hospital Federal Credit Union has maintained strong capital through its five-star rating and with NCUA admiration. Beginning in 2011 the Board has received approval from NCUA to expand our field of membership to include all medical personnel, physician, hospitals and medical services in surrounding parishes. We have also received approval to change our corporate name that will help meet our strategic plan of growth in services. Your credit union has changed its identity to “Acadiana Medical Federal Credit Union” (AMFCU) to meet our vision for growth in the beyond our present service area.
This new look and expansion was made possible through the Board’s approach to ULL’s graduating MBA students who both graciously and enthusiastically took this on as their final academic project, presenting their findings with a dynamic plan for our success. In addition, the strategic plan includes an ATM portal in the main lobby of the new Lourdes facility on Ambassador Caffery Parkway.
The main Credit Union office would remain in its present location allowing personal window and drive-thru service to our members.
Ina Burchett announced her retirement in 2015 having maintained a “5-Star Rating” during her leadership. Pauline Miller had trained under Ms. Ina’s training and guidance and it was recommended to the Board of Directors for Ina’s replacement as manager of the Credit Union.
Pauline Miller was unanimously approved by the Board by the Board of Directors and has shown her expertise in continuing the growth and services our members expect.
Recognition for Excellence!
The Board recognizes AMFCU’s success through the dedication of its all-volunteer Directors, Supervisory Committee, AMFCU Management, and Staff.