THA’s 2024 Annual Conference: Unity in the Face of Challenge

Nearly 500 Texas health care executives, leaders and sponsors convened in Dallas for THA’s 2024 Annual Conference to answer the industry’s call for hospital champions.


Last week, THA’s Annual Conference, a hallmark event for health care professionals statewide, hosted nearly 500 attendees, speakers and sponsors in Dallas, Texas – the largest turnout since the pandemic.

This year’s gathering was particularly noteworthy, not just for its insightful sessions and networking opportunities, but for the resounding theme of unity and support among hospital executives. In a post-pandemic era where the health care industry faces mounting pressures and misinformation from galvanized adversaries, the importance of coming together to defend and support the sector has never been more critical.

“Our industry can no longer subsidize governmental programs while simultaneously treating the large number of uninsured. Especially while facing record inflation, workforce shortages and the influence of big insurance,” said Brad Holland, president/CEO of Hendrick Health and THA’s 2024 board chair. “This historical cycle hurts us, our patients and our communities.”

Attendees adorned pins with the phrase, “I love Texas hospitals” and t-shirts with the same message were thrown by Holland from stage during a rallying opening session. There was a palpable sense of camaraderie and enthusiasm for the industry. Even though it’s an interim session year, it’s clear that if 2025 is to be a successful session year for Texas hospitals, taking the foot off the gas in 2024 equates to going in reverse, not neutral.

“We are a powerhouse of motivated champions, who have countless stories and examples of how Texas hospitals help make Texas a great place to live,” said John Hawkins, THA president/CEO, in his opening remarks. “It’s not the same Texas without us. It’s not a healthy Texas without us.”

United Against Legislative Challenges

The 2023 legislative session brought with it a series of challenges that put the hospital industry under unfair scrutiny. Policies and regulations that threatened the operational integrity and financial stability of hospitals across Texas were at the forefront of legislative discussions. Certain groups and lawmakers were determined to propose legislation like bans on hospital outpatient payments and government rate-setting, that, if passed, would inevitably lead to hospital closures.

“Those things died. We were able to kill them, but they’re going to come back. … But the good thing is, we know that,” explained Jennifer Banda, J.D., THA’s senior vice president of advocacy and public policy, during her recap of the 2023 session of the Texas Legislature.

As is the case every year, THA’s Annual Conference served as a significant touchpoint for hospital leaders and underscored the power of collective action and the importance of standing together in defense of the health care industry.

Honoring Texas Hospital Leaders

Every year during its annual conference, THA honors exemplary health care leaders and organizations that were nominated and selected by a committee of their peers the year prior.

“These award winners have exemplified what it means to serve their communities inside and outside their facilities’ walls,” said Hawkins. “Their pursuit of meeting and exceeding the highest standards of health care should be celebrated and emulated.”

Bill Aston Award for Quality, Rural Hospital Category:

Deaf Smith Country Hospital District (Hereford)

Deaf Smith County Hospital District, Bill Aston 2023 Award Winner, Rural Hospital

The Bill Aston Award for Quality honors hospitals’ measurable success in improving quality and patient outcomes through the sustained implementation of a national and/or state evidence-based patient care initiative.

Deaf Smith County Hospital District (DSCHD) was awarded THA’s Bill Aston Award for Quality for its Community Paramedicine Program to deliver post-hospitalization, in-home follow-up care and monitoring. This program was created for patients who have been discharged from the hospital but still require medical attention and monitoring to prevent readmission and ensure successful outcomes.

Bill Aston Award for Quality, Non-Research/Non-Teaching Hospital/Health System Category:

St. Luke’s Health (Texas Division)

St. Luke’s Health Texas Division, Bill Aston 2023 Award Winner Non-Research Non-Teaching Hospital Health System

The Bill Aston Award for Quality honors hospitals’ measurable success in improving quality and patient outcomes through the sustained implementation of a national and/or state evidence-based patient care initiative.

St. Luke’s Health was awarded THA’s Bill Aston Award for Quality for its Sepsis mortality improvement program.

Excellence in Community Service Award:

Children’s Health (Dallas)

Children’s Health, Dallas, Excellence In Community Service Award 2023 Award Winner

The Excellence in Community Service Award recognizes hospitals and health care systems that have distinguished themselves through contributions to their community.

Children’s Health was awarded THA’s Excellence in Community Service Award for their Behavioral Health Integration and Guidance (BHIG) Initiative, a proactive program launched by Children’s Health and the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute to address children’s mental health needs at the point of primary care.

HOSPAC Star Award:

Freddy Warner, Jr., J.D., chief government relations officer, Memorial Hermann Health System (Houston)

Freddy Warner Jr., J.D., HOSPAC 2023 Star Award Winner

Created in 2009, the HOSPAC Star Award recognizes outstanding hospital leaders and trustees who go above and beyond to support HOSPAC, the state and federal political action committees of the Texas Hospital Association Nominees for the award are submitted by THA membership, and award winners are selected by the HOSPAC Executive Committee.

The 2023 HOSPAC Star Award winner is Freddy Warner, Jr., J.D., chief government relations officer, Memorial Hermann Health System.

New Conference Date Pattern

THA’s educational events exist to provide hospitals with the latest legislative news that impacts Texas hospitals so they can make operational adjustments and adapt to new legislative requirements.

During session years, THA’s annual conference has been an outlet to share updates from the Capitol in real-time as the session unfolds. While this can be exciting, THA made the strategic decision to shift its conference to after session with agenda topics based on the most current laws and policies. By hosting the THA Annual Conference after the legislative session, we can ensure there’s holistic coverage of legislative news and robust attendance by our hospital staff and advocates.

Save the date for THA’s 2025 Annual Conference, Sept. 23-24, 2025, at La Cantera Resort in San Antonio.

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