What I have seen and learned through a tour of our service region.

It's been a little over ten months since I joined Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc., as President & CEO. It has been an incredible experience so far and I am constantly excited and impressed by the team members and partners I’ve been blessed to meet along the way. One of the first commitments I made when joining the organization was to tour our service area in my first year on the job; it’s a commitment I am making progress on. Thus far, I have visited the Rio Grande Valley, the Las Misiones region, the Laredo/Border region, the Concho Valley, and most recently, the Crossroads region. Each visit has presented me with an opportunity to see firsthand the great work our team members do and to understand the many different "Whys" that makes our organization so special.

During my visits, I've been blessed with opportunities to meet with some of our partners too and see their operations, I am inspired by their collective efforts to improve the health of their communities. From talking about diabetes education with Proyecto Juan Diego in Brownsville, to Integrated Behavioral Health at Mercy Ministries of Laredo or the challenges of addressing mental health with West Texas Counseling & Guidance in San Angelo, I am in awe of their commitment and exceptional performance (while stretching resources as far as they can go.) I have seen how the partners funded by Methodist Healthcare Ministries value and appreciate our support and make every effort to leverage those dollars into increasing access to care for patients in the communities they serve. They do as much as they can, in all the ways they can, as long as they can. It is truly inspiring.

Most importantly, on each visit I get to meet with our own team. Wesley Nurses, School Based Health Center Staff, Get FIT program staff, and community counselors, community health workers, parenting program staff and more all working diligently in their communities. I value the time we have spent together, oftentimes over a meal where I can hear their personal "why" and examples of how their work brings our mission to life. I also draw a lot of joy from seeing some of our programs in action, such as the Get FIT sites I toured in Santa Rosa, where I saw the types of programming and activities we promote to keep children actively learning everything from dance, to archery, playing sports and planting in a greenhouse. I even get to have a little fun!

All along the way, I am not only learning about how we have supported our programs and partners in the past, but also finding new ways to be of assistance in the moment. For example, I learned one of our partners was interested in having a representative from an area hospital serve on their board. One phone call later, I was able to connect that organization to leadership from a local hospital, so they could continue that discussion. Also, in touring our School Based Health Center in Schertz, I learned that one of the functions we serve is providing no-cost or low-cost vaccines to students. As I serve as the Chair for both the American Cancer Society's South Texas Area Board and their South Region Cabinet, I knew that increasing access to human papillomavirus (HPV) immunizations is an important issue facing school communities. I challenged our team to increase our immunization rates and they responded to that call in a big way. Through collaboration with the San Antonio American Cancer Society, and partnership with H-E-B Pharmacy and the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City I.S.D., we hosted an immunization drive where we provided the HPV vaccine at a local middle school—ninety percent of the kids who participated received the HPV immunization. The immunizations offered to the kids are more than just immunizations needed for school—it’s cancer prevention and I am so proud that we can make such a profound difference in their lives. These are just two examples of ways in which these tours of service have helped to give me a greater sense for ways to support our partners and the patients we serve.

In the coming months, I will complete my promised tour of our service area by visiting the Hill Country region, the Coastal Bend area, and the Capital-area. I get a great deal of knowledge and experience from these visits. I know that as I continue to grow and learn in this position, I will get a better sense of the impact our programs and services have on the communities we serve, as well as how we can better support our team members and partners in their daily efforts to help us fulfill our mission of Serving Humanity to Honor God.