During the period between 1979-1980 a group of local physicians determined there was a need for a women’s hospital to serve the needs of women in the Lafayette community. Woman’s Hospital of Acadiana Foundation (now WFI) was formed and became the recipient of the land donation. The Woman’s Foundation Inc. (WFI) was created to manage the land and oversee the construction of a hospital. The Foundation contracted with Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) to build the hospital and subsequently operate the facility. Today, that facility is known as Women’s & Children’s Hospital. WFI was formed as a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of women. Once the hospital was completed in 1983, WFI entered into a 99 year agreement with HCA to lease the property. The lease payments from the hospital provide the operating funds for the Foundation.
In 1984, the Foundation began sponsoring continuing medical educational activities for physicians on health issues affecting women and their families. The Foundation is accredited by the Louisiana State Medical Society as an approved provider of continuing medical educational (CME) programs for physicians.
In 1987, the Foundation, after determining the increased need to reach the public sector, opened the Health Information Center (HIC), a library of videotapes, DVD’s and pamphlets on various health and wellness topics available to the public at no charge. The HIC’s coordinator regularly makes presentations to various agencies and community organizations informing them of the services offered at the center, which averages about 250 visitors each month.
The Foundation has expanded its outreach in the community through various other projects, such as establishing nursing scholarships at UL-Lafayette and LSU-Eunice; worked with the Lafayette Education Foundation in sponsoring mini-grants for teachers in Lafayette Parish public schools; providing grants for other projects which fall within the scope of the Foundation’s mission; development of a community education department to focus on offering forums, lectures and educational programs for the community on topics of concern. Current on-going programs include sessions on puberty, college preparedness for high school juniors, legal rights and responsibilities for young parents and baby-sitter training and a course for young women on “ The Six Most Important Decisions You Will Make”. In 2002, WFI began sponsoring the annual week-long Women’s Health Expo bringing current health information to women in the local community in an informal setting. The Care and Concern for Women and Families Award is presented by Woman’s Foundation each year to an organization that is dedicated to enhancing our community by promoting the worth and value of women and families and is supporting programs that address the quality of life for women and families in our community.
In 2004, the Newborn Exhibit at Women’s & Children’s Hospital opened. This artistic seascape gallery is filled with personalized tiles of fish to commemorate the birth of any baby ever born at Women’s & Children’s Hospital. Proceeds from the sale of the commemorative fish support the community education programs.
As of today a total of 450,000 women and their families have been served through the various programs and services of the Foundation. The Foundation is presently governed by a volunteer board of directors, comprised of individuals from the medical, legal, business, professional and educational community who direct and oversee the work of a seven person professional staff.