A resource not to be taken for granted


Several years ago, a coworker’s husband needed surgery. The coworker’s brother, an executive for a large company in San Antonio, called her and asked, “Hey, I’m off work and I was going to go see your brother in the hospital. Where is he?”

He was surprised when she told him her brother was at Hill Country Memorial (HCM) in Fredericksburg. His assumption had been that they would want the best and therefore he would be at one of the main San Antonio hospitals.

She replied that they did want the best and that’s why he chose a local surgeon and HCM.

Isn’t it weird that we often think a smaller organization will give us more personal attention, but when it comes to healthcare we go against that intuition and assume that the bigger bureaucracy will give us better service.

I’ve been in Fredericksburg, working at The Good Samaritan Center — a charitable medical-dental-mental health counseling clinic — for nearly 13 years. We help low-income families who are uninsured and I’ve been able to see HCM up close from several perspectives.

My wife and children have had ER visits, screenings and surgeries there. HCM has helped countless numbers of our patients (your neighbors, coworkers, employees, and friends — maybe even you) with a myriad of health crises.

And while no health system will ever be perfect, the fact that HCM pursued, and ultimately earned, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and now serves as a model for hospitals all over Texas, testifies to their commitment to you.

It’s even been ranked as a Top 100 Hospital in the entire country for the last several years!

Some of us moved here from larger metropolitan areas like Austin and San Antonio (we came from Waco). While we enjoy the slower pace of a small town and rural community, one of the things that attracted us to Fredericksburg is how sophisticated it is.

For most, that included knowing there is a healthcare system here that will care for us as we age.

But at the same time, it can be hard to let go of the mindset that, when it comes to our medical needs, you need to be big to be good.

Ironically, at least in Fredericksburg’s case, as is proven by all of the national awards they have won, smaller is actually better. And they continue to earn the right to be our first choice instead of our end-of-life backup plan.

HCM’s senior leadership has always cared deeply about Fredericksburg and Gillespie County. Because the current CEO, Jayne Pope, and the board care about serving every patient in Fredericksburg, not just the “profitable ones,” they asked me to join the board of trustees this year to ensure that the uninsured have a voice in the board room.

I don’t know of any other charitable clinic director in the state who is a trustee for their local health system. That’s a special kind of commitment.

In the midst of unprecedented uncertainty in healthcare, reduced reimbursement rates, and high-deductible catastrophic plans passing as health insurance, HCM continues to put its highest priority on service and value to you as its community.

In short, they don’t take you for granted. They want to earn your business so that they can also be here when you need them.

As a customer of HCM who needs its services for my family, as a director of a nonprofit who sees hundreds of people receive critical care from HCM every year, and as a trustee charged with ensuring that HCM is here for our community for decades to come, my request of you is that you not take them for granted either.



John Willome is the executive director of The Good Samaritan Center, a charitable clinic serving low-income families and individuals who are uninsured. He was also named a trustee for Hill Country Memorial in 2018.