A heart for healthcare


Local hospital advocate serving as chair of statewide organization


After moving to Fredericksburg, Laura Cook was looking for a way to become involved in the community and quickly fell in love with Hill Country Memorial Hospital and the services they provide.

This sparked a passion in me and I wanted to do what I could to be a part of it, she said.

She joined the board of trustees in 2009 and served for a total of nine years. Cook served as the chair from 2014-2015 and currently serves as an advisory trustee.

I was looking for a way to contribute to our community and the more I learned about healthcare and our hospital, the more interested and engaged I became, she said.

Cook joined Hill Country Memorial on the finance committee as she has a background in banking and is the current vice president at Chase Bank in Fredericksburg.

The business aspect was what interested me the most and how the people at HCM are absolutely committed to the mission and vision, she said. Even with a background in finance, learning about the financial nuances of healthcare and the operating model for a community hospital was very challenging.

Cook has also served as the chair of the Quality Committee, which is composed of trustees, hospital staff and community members. During her time on that committee, she paid special attention to patient safety and ways to improve it.

We became laser focused on improving patient safety, she said.

Cook and HCM staff note that HCM has consistently scored in the top 10 percent by Healthgrades for patient safety and ranks in the top 10 percent nationally for the CMS clinical process measures, healthcare outcomes and patient experiences measures.

It has been very rewarding to see HCM maintain its high level of patient safety and satisfaction over the years, Cook said.

Cook began her tenure working with former CEO Dr. Mike Williams and was on the search committee that resulted in hiring current CEO Jayne Pope.

Cook assumed leadership during the time HCM received the Malcolm Baldridge award.

One of the most interesting roles I have had was answering questions during a site visit from the Malcolm Baldridge team, she said. It was very rewarding to be a part of the HCM journey when we were a recipient of the 2014 Malcolm Baldridge National Quality award.

During her time, Cook has seen the hospital grow, both in Fredericksburg and surrounding areas.

In addition to providing our community with resources, HCM has expanded the footprint to include 15 locations in eight counties, she said.

Cooks said the healthcare landscape is changing and, as a result, she has helped form strategic partnerships and worked with others to maintain the success of HCM.

Statewide advocate

In addition to serving locally, Cook is serving as board chair for Texas Healthcare Trustees in 2020.

THT is a statewide association whose members are Texas hospitals, health systems and the 3,000 members who govern and serve those organizations.

THT also provides programming, continuing education and other leadership development. It is governed by a statewide board of trustees that serve diverse hospitals across the state. It is affiliated with the Texas Hospital Association.

THT provides a platform for learning, continuing education and supporting healthcare in our communities, which aligns with my per- sonal goal to have a positive influence and give back where I can, she said.

According to Cook, hospitals look to THT to help build strong foundations and become grounded in their governance role.

The healthcare learning curve is steep and it can be overwhelming in their communities and at learn times, more especially about community since once you landscape changes, Cook said.

Cook also helps provide resources Local newspapers often and advice to other hospitals across showcase community events Texas, sharing HCM™s values and successes.

Personal journey

When she isn™t serving on boards or learning more about the healthcare landscape, Cook enjoys traveling to new places.

I find it exciting to leave my comfort zone and become immersed in a different culture, she said. œI also love to get creative in the kitchen, especially when my daughter or sister can join me in trying new recipes,