Exploring the Future of Texas Health Care

In March, a record number of online attendees from across the state joined the Texas Hospital Association for its first virtual conference.


On March 10, THA’s president and CEO, Ted Shaw, delivered opening remarks to nearly 1,000 attendees across the state who tuned in for THA’s first virtual conference. The record number of attendees aptly reflected the monumental year Texas hospitals have faced.

“Exactly a year ago, we were together in San Antonio at our annual conference when the news came through that the first case of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Texas. We were together, united as an industry, on the cusp of a year we would never forget.”

Conference participants attended via a streaming platform that allowed a front-row seat to every session.

The suitably themed “Future of Texas Health Care” conference provided attendees with the opportunity to hear from leaders at the state and federal level about pressing legislative issues and what to expect during the 2021 session and beyond.

Conference keynotes included Marc Boom, M.D., FACHE, THA board chair and president and CEO of Houston Methodist; Donna Brazile, political strategist and former chair of the Democratic National Committee; Gloria Goins, former chief diversity and inclusion officer at Bon Secours Mercy Health System; and Jeremi Suri, Ph.D., author, historian and distinguished chair for leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

The events of the past year shaped the topics discussed throughout the conference. The foremost topic being the outstanding need for affordable and equitable health care for all Texans —an issue that THA has been advocating for even prior to the legislative session.

Attendees who tuned into the keynote session with Donna Brazile and Dr. Boom were privy to an in-depth report from the White House on the ongoing effects of COVID-19 in Texas. The session also provided timely explanation of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was signed into law by President Biden on the same day.

“There is an opportunity for Texas and the other 11 states that have opted out of expanding Medicaid to work with the Biden administration to ensure no one falls through the social safety-net,” Donna Brazile explained.

Hospitals have a big year ahead and it will require the collective voices of health care providers, patients, advocates and executives to bring the needs of our state’s hospitals to the forefront of lawmakers’ awareness.

During his chair speech, Dr. Boom concluded with a clear call to action for all health care professionals in Texas. “I believe we must build upon the collaborative foundation we created to get through the COVID-19 pandemic to reconsider how care is delivered in Texas,” said Dr. Boom. “I look forward to working alongside all of you in the months and years ahead to address these disparities and work towards health equity for all Texans.”

We remain grateful to all the attendees, speakers, exhibitors and staff whose participation made this conference a success. We hope to see you Feb. 8-9, 2022, at the Marriott Marquis Houston for the 2022 THA Annual Conference & Expo.

Earl M. Collier Award for Distinguished Health Care Administration

Phyllis A. Cowling

President and CEO, United Regional Health Care System, Wichita Falls

Phyllis Cowling has spent the last 30 years as a tireless advocate for Texans’ access to quality health care. Cowling, described by colleagues as a natural leader, translates her goals into actions. Cowling knows that change is necessary and that there is a need to evolve and grow in the health care industry.

Bill Aston Award for Quality

Dell Children’s Medical Center, Austin

Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin developed a swift recovery pathway for idiopathic scoliosis spinal fusions. Evidence supports the use of a rapid recovery pathway for spinal fusion surgery, including admission to the acute care floor, early mobilization, early transition from intravenous narcotics to oral pain management, and early initiation of a bowel regimen.

Bill Aston Award for Quality

UT Health East Texas, Tyler

In 2018, UT Health East Texas in Tyler, launched a cultural transformation through the development and implementation of Mission Zero: Our Culture of Safety, where zero patient harm became their goal. UTHET’s quality and patient safety team began by analyzing nearly 25,000 safety events from all facilities from 2016 through 2018. The analyses showed many approaches to patient safety system-wide and a need to standardize practices across all facilities.

Bill Aston Award for Quality

Texas Health Resources, Arlington

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sepsis attributes nearly 270,000 deaths in the U.S. annually, with expenses approaching $20 billion per year. Because of sepsis’ impact, Texas Health Resources adopted sepsis mortality as a key performance indicator to decrease mortality in 2016.

HOSPAC Star Award

Michael Murphy, FACHE

CEO, Hendrick Medical Center South, Abilene

This year’s HOSPAC Star Award winner is Michael Murphy, CEO of Henrick Medical Center South in Abilene. Murphy is a passionate advocate for the Texas Hospital Association and HOSPAC – the only political action committee that represents all Texas Hospitals. Murphy’s dedication to HOSPAC is evident through his direct HOSPAC engagement with hospital leaders, his leadership in strategic board planning and even in and his meeting participation – only missing three meetings throughout his time on the HOSPAC board.

THA Excellence in Community Service Award

Parkland Health & Hospital System, Dallas

Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas has been honored with the 2020 THA Excellence in Community Service Award. Consistent with its mission as Dallas County’s safety-net health care provider, Parkland focused its efforts and resources from the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis to serve those at the highest risk.

Pioneer Award

Adam Willmann, FACHE

CEO, Goodall Witcher Hospital Authority, Clifton

Adam Willmann joined Goodall-Witcher Hospital Authority as CEO in 2012. He oversees a 25-bed critical access hospital, a 40-bed nursing facility, two rural health clinics, a home health agency and a wellness center. Willmann has no shortage of responsibilities, and he fulfills each one with creativity, commitment and perseverance.