Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from Sept. 15-Oct. 15 each year as a time to recognize and honor the rich cultural contributions of Hispanic and Latinx communities in the United States. In Texas, where Hispanic culture is deeply intertwined with the state’s identity, this month takes on special significance. Texas hospitals are not only celebrating this vibrant heritage but also actively working to improve the lives of Hispanic communities across the state – an effort that’s undertaken by health care workers year-round.
Texas is home to a significant Hispanic population, with over 30% of its residents identifying as Hispanic or Latino. As such, Texas hospitals understand the importance of diversity and inclusivity in health care. Hospitals across the state strive to create an environment where every patient feels welcome and receives culturally competent care. This means understanding the unique health care needs and preferences of Hispanic patients.
From ensuring language accessibility for Spanish-speaking patients and training providers in cultural competencies, to tackling widespread health disparities head-on, hospital leaders across Texas are constantly looking to expand access and improve the quality of equitable health care for Hispanic communities. And, as the Hispanic population in Texas continues to grow and diversify, these efforts will only become more important.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, THA is recognizing a handful of Hispanic leaders in Texas hospitals and health care. Join us in celebrating the following Hispanic hospital leaders:
Edmundo Castañeda, FACHE
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Parkland Health
Prior to joining Parkland in January 2022, Castañeda worked for Dignity Health, part of CommonSpirit Health, in the greater Sacramento, Calif., area where he served as President of Mercy General Hospital and Woodland Memorial Hospital. From 2015-2017, he was responsible for Mercy General Hospital and Mercy Hospital of Folsom. Castañeda’s career in hospital leadership spans nearly two decades. Before joining Dignity Health in 2012, Castañeda served as CEO at Tenet’s Sierra Medical Center in El Paso for five years, as well as various other leadership roles in Texas and New Mexico.
President & CEO, El Paso County Hospital District
“Our ancestors instilled the values of hard work, family and giving back; we honor them by lifting each other up. I am humbled to lead a team that daily builds a healthier tomorrow by ensuring that all in our border region have access to health care.”
Clinical Projects Manager, Texas Hospital Association
“Growing up, I saw that others in my community were not as fortunate as I was. Many people didn’t have access to quality health care. Being a nurse gave me the opportunity to help and support others in a meaningful and productive way.”
Jacob Cuellar, MD
CEO, Laurel Ridge Treatment Center
Under the leadership of Dr. Cuellar, Laurel Ridge has developed specialty programs for adult acute care, detoxification and rehabilitation, child & adolescent acute care and residential programs, and serves as the largest civilian provider for the treatment of military related PTSD in the country. His aspiration was to “do his part” as a civilian. He made a leadership commitment to support the highest quality treatment program for Active Duty Service Members; thus, the Mission Resiliency Program was born. During his tenure, the hospital has been a Joint Commission Top Performer and a two time recipient of the coveted UHS Behavioral Division Service Excellence Award for its achievement of industry high patient outcomes. Dr. Cuellar attributes this success to the unwavering commitment to positively impact the lives of the patients we are privileged to serve.
Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy, Texas Hospital Association
“My heritage inspires and informs my work every day, as it is inherently who I am. Representation is important, and I believe my perspective and background as a Hispanic woman enhances my advocacy work.”
Cesar Lopez, J.D.
Associate General Counsel, Texas Hospital Association
“My heritage connects me to family and community. As my personal and professional lives expand, and I experience more of the world, I find a shared history, language, and culture in more and more places. THA is among the many organizations taking great care to highlight and celebrate the diaspora created by its staff and members. This important effort inspires my work at THA, as future generations should have the same opportunities to experience their and other cultures as we have.”
Norma Martínez Rogers, PhD, MSN, RN
Professor Emeritus, UT Health Science Center San Antonio School of Nursing
Dr. Norma Martínez Rogers was the inaugural fully tenured Latina professor at UT Health, among her several other accolades. Earlier in her career, she was assigned to William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Ft. Bliss, Texas during Operation Desert Storm and was president of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. Most recently, Dr. Rogers was awarded the 2022 Living Legends award, the highest designation from the American Academy of Nursing.
Senior Director Health Policy, Texas Hospital Association
“My heritage has helped shape me into the person that I am. I was raised by strong Latina women who taught me to take pride in where I come from, to give back to my community, and to take care of those around me. Those lessons definitely manifest themselves in my life where I try to create community where I can and, in my work, where I strive to improve access to culturally and linguistically appropriate health care services for all and reduce the disparities impacting communities of color, including Latinos.”
Martina Ramirez, RN
Manager, Neurology Center, Titus Regional Medical Center
“I would not be where I am today if it had not been for God, my parents and their desire to provide a better future for their children. It is a privilege for me to be able to serve my community and help inspire other Hispanic generations to do the same.”
Chief Advocacy Officer, Ascension Texas
“I grew up a migrant farmworker, the son of an immigrant, and I am the first in my family to graduate from high school, college and law school. I am grateful to serve in health care where we have the audacity to believe every individual is a human being endowed with dignity and therefore, we serve each person with respect.”
Irene Sandate, DNP
Chief Nursing Officer, University Health Women’s & Children’s Hospital
“My involvement in health care is informed by what I learned as a child. Compassion isn’t always something you learn in school. It’s something you learn as you are growing up. My family, my parents, and everyone around me impressed the importance of compassion and empathy on me. I try to carry that forward to others. The design and development of the Women’s & Children’s Hospital started with the concept of family. It’s very important to me, and I think we’ve produced something very beautiful as a result, something our patients will feel, and something that will lead to better outcomes for our patients.”
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