CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System: Jerry Rodriguez, Vice President and Administrator

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Many healthcare organizations have a stated mission, but few attempt to expand that mission into the spiritual realm, taking the mantle of Jesus Christ as their standard and example.

CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System is a member of CHRISTUS Health, a Dallas, Texas-based, Catholic health ministry that spans not only the United States, with a concentration on the Gulf Coast region, but also spans internationally into Mexico. CHRISTUS Health’s mission is explicit—“to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.”

As an important contributor to the CHRISTUS family, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa strives to carry out this mission in a variety of South Texas communities, including San Antonio and New Braunfels. For some healthcare executives, being part of a system may seem restrictive and restraining, but for Jerry Rodriguez, vice president and administrator of CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System, it’s like being part of a large family. Members may not always agree, but in the end, they’re united around a common purpose and focused on supporting each other.

An active and expanding system

Founded in 1869 by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of Houston and San Antonio, this non-profit organization has expanded to include five full-service hospitals—CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital in Alamo Heights, which opened in January 2012; CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – City Centre in the historic downtown area; CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital in the Medical Center; CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital in New Braunfels; and CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital in Westover Hills. Also included in the system is CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital, three CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Physicians Ambulatory Surgery Centers in San Antonio, and a CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Physicians Ambulatory Surgery Center in New Braunfels.

The only Catholic faith-based, non-profit health system in San Antonio and New Braunfels, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa is one of three hospitals in Texas to receive HealthGrades’ Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence over seven successive years. For two consecutive years, HealthGrades also named CHRISTUS one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals.

Rodriguez oversees the City Centre Hospital and also administers CHRISTUS Santa Rosa’s short-stay surgical hospital in Alamo Heights.

Treating people with dignity and respect

For Rodriguez, everything about his leadership ties back to CHRISTUS Health’s core values of dignity, integrity, excellence, compassion, and stewardship. He holds CHRISTUS Santa Rosa to a high standard, seeking to have these values applied not just to patients, but to Associates as well.

As the nation’s leading charitable-care provider, CHRISTUS has set an incredibly high standard for itself, especially in an age of cutting reimbursements.

“From a regional perspective, we have more folks who are uninsured or underinsured and who turn to organizations like us who do provide that charitable care, and it’s becoming more and more difficult to deal with cutting reimbursements in today’s society,” Rodriguez said.

Furthermore, carrying forth Jesus’ earthly healing ministry presents demands and expectations that secular-based organizations may not feel. Essentially, compassion becomes the Associates’ calling card.

“Not that we’re more compassionate than other organizations,” Rodriguez said, “but it’s engrained in everything we do, so I think that individuals that come to us really experience God’s healing presence.”

As a registered nurse, Rodriguez explained this spiritual perspective affects how one, as a caregiver, approaches issues related to birth and death. Compassion takes on a whole new meaning and affects the patient in a holistic, but unusual way.

“I think the reason people come to us is because they want to experience that, and I think that’s why people want to work for us, because they want to be part of that experience also and to be able to deliver that to our patients,” he said.

Excited about change and reform

Some healthcare executives approach healthcare reform with fear and trepidation. Rodriguez sees it as an opportunity that spurs excitement within him, especially when it comes to matters of quality care and patient safety.

“It’s an opportunity for us as an industry to redefine ourselves, and I would say that translates throughout our region,” he said, a region where they are growing.

Therefore, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa is focused on National Patient Safety Goals and all of its evidence-based practices and core measures. CHRISTUS Santa Rosa is also looking at preventable –infection initiatives.

Being in a culturally diverse area, Rodriguez said that CHRISTUS Santa Rosa strives to respect every person’s needs and dignity, even if those needs are faith-related demands such as the kinds of food a patient can eat. Key medical personnel are also trained in matters related to diversity. CHRISTUS Santa Rosa sees patients as being a member of their family, Rodriguez said, all of which ties back into the overall system’s vision.

“Jesus was not biased in who He healed and who He cared for, and I believe that’s very much the same for us,” he stated. “We’re given that responsibility; a responsibility to continue the calling three founding sisters accepted more than 142 years ago.”

Being a national role model

In addition to respecting Associates and patients, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa, like its parent system, is intent on being a role model. Already a role model when it comes to offering uncompensated national care, Rodriguez believes that in the future, people will wonder how the overall CHRISTUS Health System continues to be a viable organization with its mission and charity care, while still providing quality excellent care.

“We are already the industry leaders in many areas,” he said. “I think more and more people will look to CHRISTUS Health as a role model. I think they will look to us on the quality side and the service-excellence side.”

Rodriguez added that he believes CHRISTUS Santa Rosa is there to perform a very special work in the community. He sees CHRISTUS Santa Rosa as blessed to be in its various communities, and he feels the communities are blessed to have CHRISTUS. And always, he said, the motivation is striving for excellence in a compassionate, courteous way.

“Our mission really directs us in everything we do.”

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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