Making a Difference in Our South Texas Community
Al Jones was welcomed to Corpus Christi in 1970 by Hurricane Celia.
The storm did extensive damage across the Coastal Bend, but in the rebuilding effort afterward, and in the years since, Jones has witnessed exceptional growth and development. As the first chief operations officer of American Bank when it first opened in 1970 and later being named CEO in the 1980s, Jones has seen firsthand how a community can work together to improve itself.
One area that helps define a community is its quality of health care, something that drew him to get involved with CHRISTUS Spohn.
“CHRISTUS Spohn has a huge significance in the community and it’s important to be a large part of the effort in improving health care for all South Texans,” says Jones. “For me personally, that meant getting deeply involved. That’s why I’ve taken on the roles within CHRISTUS Spohn that I have.”
Jones, who has served in multiple capacities on the CHRISTUS Spohn Health System board and with the CHRISTUS Spohn Foundation, also is Co-Chair of the Our PATH Forward Capital Campaign, a fundraising effort that will help lay the foundation for CHRISTUS Spohn’s transformation of care.
People & Actions Transforming Healthcare rests right at the heart of CHRISTUS Spohn’s mission, and goes hand in hand with the values of American Bank, says Jones.
“The philosophy we’ve had at American Bank is that we’re deeply embedded in this community and have been for a long time,” says Jones. “We believe that living here and working here, we need to be involved in the community, and that we need to be good corporate citizens. And that means helping to make Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend a better place. That’s a top requirement for us.”
That support from American Bank has taken many forms, including being the annual presenting sponsor of the CHRISTUS Spohn Lyceum, helping to bring in exceptional speakers who are able to provide commentary and insight on some of the most essential issues of our time.
Jones points to change across South Texas when noting ongoing industrial and societal developments, but one thing remains constant, he says.
“CHRISTUS Spohn will continue to be here to deliver health care services to our community regardless of whether patients are able to pay for them or not,” says Jones. “It’s important to be able to provide the best in quality health care to a growing community and I’m proud to be associated with CHRISTUS Spohn.”
Striving to Support CHRISTUS Spohn's Lyceum
Margaret Jataine smiles when she thinks about the business her father started.
Corpus Christi Produce Company, Inc. started off humbly in 1946, with one goal in mind: provide the best fruits and vegetables to South Texas. However, there was just one problem: it meant lots of travel.
“My father would go around and take orders locally, drive to San Antonio, bring the produce back and deliver it all,” says Jataine. “As the years went by, his business got bigger and he expanded, but he would always take me with him, and some of my earliest memories are of going to San Antonio or to the Valley every night. I’d drink all the Cokes and eat all the candy, and back then they had ‘funny books,’ and I’d have a stack of those.”
A growing community’s need for quality produce continued to expand, and the business has remained a Coastal Bend staple, serving Corpus Christi, Kingsville, Alice and a host of other towns. Jataine inherited the business from her father after his passing. She also received his work ethic and sense of community pride, focusing on giving back to South Texas.
“It’s important to take care of others in the community when you’re in a position to help,” says Jataine.
While health care has undergone obvious changes during the past century of its ministry CHRISTUS Spohn Health System remains a community asset, says Jataine, noting that her children and grandchildren all were born at CHRISTUS Spohn.
It was only natural to help give back to a hospital system that has always been there for her family, says Jataine, and her involvement in fundraising events makes her “proud.”
“I’ve always enjoyed being a sponsor and being a part of CHRISTUS Spohn events including the Lyceum and Richard King III Grand Classic golf tournament,” says Jataine. “Those events really are gifts to the community because all those proceeds go back into providing care for South Texas.”
Despite obvious differences, Jataine is quick to point out the similarities between her business and CHRISTUS Spohn.
“Like we strive to get a 100 on all of our inspections, CHRISTUS Spohn strives to be the best,” says Jataine. “I had a heart test recently at CHRISTUS Spohn, and everything runs so smoothly. The cardiac department is excellent. Everyone there is so nice and it’s a great program. Everyone from the doctors to the administration is excellent. They’re devoted and really care about their jobs, especially when it comes to the patients they serve.”
Rick Rogers (left) and Ham Rogers at one of their favorite places — Corpus Christi Country Club.
Honoring a CHRISTUS Spohn Legacy on the Links
Everyone at the Corpus Christi Country Club knows the Rogers family.
In particular, the names of Rick and Ham Rogers adorn walls of honor as tournament champions, while other plaques and portraits highlight their valuable service to the Club.
However, the Rogers name also is well-known in the community for numerous other invaluable reasons, largely because of the service of the late Dr. F.F. Rogers, a longtime surgeon at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital-Shoreline.
“We’ll still get asked all the time, ‘Was your dad a doctor?’ They’ll say, ‘He saved my grandfather’ or ‘He saved my wife.’ It just makes you feel really good,” says Rick. “Our dad was just a kind-hearted man who made a big difference in South Texas and he greatly enjoyed helping others any way he could.”
Making a difference runs in the family, something that has helped make the CHRISTUS Spohn Richard King III Grand Classic the notable fundraiser it has become. King was a patient of Dr. Rogers and had great admiration for him and the care he provided to so many in the community.
“Dick King asked me to be the chairman of the tournament one year in honor of my dad, so I couldn’t turn that down. And then they asked me to do it again and then again, and so it has kind of stuck with me,” says Rick. “My kids were born at CHRISTUS Spohn and so I wanted to give back to Spohn for what they gave to our family, including for what they gave my dad, which was a really fine place to work.”
King, a longtime member of the CHRISTUS Spohn Foundation’s Board of Directors, championed the tournament for several years. When he passed away, it seemed natural to name the event in his honor.
“Helping to sponsor the Grand Classic is something that we can do as a family and serves as a thank you to CHRISTUS Spohn for its quality care and service to the entire community. We’re just playing a little part in the larger game of helping other folks,” says Ham. “CHRISTUS Spohn and its hospitals have been important to our family. We sponsor the golf balls they give out each year at the tournament and it’s just one small way of honoring our dad and showing our gratitude for what we receive from the hospital system.”
Lou Adele May (right) and Jessica Morrill at Beeville Ladies Night Out.
Beeville Ladies Night Out Continues Success
Lou Adele May is widely known as someone who gets things done.
Luckily, for CHRISTUS Spohn Health System, she has served in multiple roles with the CHRISTUS Spohn Foundation, helping promote awareness of the need for top-notch health care across South Texas.
Lou Adele, who has served as chairwoman of the Foundation board and is a current emeritus board member, has a knack for helping bring people of diverse backgrounds together for a good cause.
“I was a school board president for 15 years and I met Patty Mueller (longtime CHRISTUS Spohn supporter) through my associations down here. She and I got to be friends and she said she thought I could provide leadership through the Foundation board, so that’s how I got started, and I really enjoyed it,” says May. “I’d sit through those meetings and think ‘there’s something we ought to be doing to raise money for the hospital.’ So I got a committee together with many different men and women, some young and some old, and we started brainstorming about how we could best serve the hospital.”
One cause that’s near and dear to her heart is ensuring that CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital-Beeville remains a community asset, which is precisely how Beeville Ladies Night Out came about.
“The idea of Mardi Gras came up and we thought ‘that’s something you can put on anywhere.’ So we started talking and there were lots of events for men, but there was nothing just for women. And then we thought, ‘Why don’t we just do an event only for women?’
“We’ve had some really great committees full of people who are talented and know how to get things done, so it’s been a wonderful thing. We moved it around to a few different venues since we got so big and finally we ended up at the Expo Center. We’ve had all kinds of vendors through the years and I know that a lot of people look forward to the event all year. It’s really a good reason to get together and celebrate with people who are making a difference.”
Beeville Ladies Night Out has raised more than $250,000 for CHRISTUS Spohn-Beeville, helping fund improvements and advancements to the emergency department, women’s services and a host of other programs that serve the surrounding community.
At the end of the day, Lou Adele is most appreciative of living in a tight-knit community where people look out for one another and are willing to lend a hand at the drop of a hat.
“I love Beeville and I love South Texas,” says May. “It’s a great place to call home.”
Alice and Gerald Sutherland
Planned Giving Provides Lasting Legacy of Care
Alice and Gerald Sutherland spent nearly 60 devoted years of marriage together.
During that time, they also built a foundation of love and support for future generations of their family.
However, their passionate commitment to their South Texas community was just as important in their eyes, and their lasting legacy is rooted in service and giving back to make a difference in the lives of friends, loved ones and, in many cases, even complete strangers.
Gerald passed away in 2012, but the company he founded left an indelible mark on South Texas and on CHRISTUS Spohn. Gerald began Masonry Construction Company, and starting in the 1950s, helped to build some of the most recognizable structures in the Coastal Bend. Even after retiring, he had one more job to complete, says Alice, one that was near and dear to his heart for numerous reasons.
“We got to know many people at CHRISTUS Spohn over the years, and in particular Gerald got to know Sister Kathleen, Sister Bridget and all the other good people that were associated with Spohn,” says Alice. “CHRISTUS Spohn was a dear institution to him for the way he was treated and how he was cared for during his time he spent in the hospital over the years, and he just shared an exceptional camaraderie with everyone at Spohn.
“He was officially retired, but his last brick job was at CHRISTUS Spohn-South, and he did it mostly because of the fact that you could consider Spohn a ‘lifesaver’ as far as for our health and livelihood. It meant a lot to him to do that job and it’s something for which he was immensely proud.”
As with other members of the Dr. Arthur E. Spohn Society — those benefactors who have included the CHRISTUS Spohn Foundation in their estate plans — the Sutherlands’ generosity helps to continue the legacy of CHRISTUS Spohn, its mission and ministry.
“I know that Gerald would recommend that anyone who had care at CHRISTUS Spohn for any period of time should consider giving back to the ministry of care,” says Alice. “It’s something that was important to our family.”
Alice is quick to point out that Gerald built his company from the ground up through determination and plenty of hard work, but he also had help along the way, something that he never forgot.
“Gerald always enjoyed giving back to people, and that’s what he was known for in the community,” says Alice. “He would help out in any way he thought would be best. He was just a wonderful husband, father and grandfather.”
Barb Flato (left) and Veronica Garcia in Cardiac Rehab at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital-Shoreline.
Giving Back Through Giving From Within
Barb Flato is passionate about making a difference in the lives of others.
Flato, the Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at CHRISTUS Spohn-Shoreline, is an advocate for continuing medical education, speaking regularly at the Texas Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation conference and other forums across the country.
“I’ve been active in the national organization for 30 years and it’s essential for my staff to be able to learn and know about changes in the industry,” says Barb. “It also helps to ensure we’re following best practices not only around the state but also around the country. The learning opportunities also include networking and seeing what other cardiac rehab programs are doing, which is valuable in our approach.”
To ensure that her staff continues to gain that valuable knowledge, Flato participates in Giving From Within, CHRISTUS Spohn’s associate giving campaign, which raises funds for numerous programs that strengthen our healing ministry. She is a member of the Hour Giving Society, designating a full hour of her salary each pay period toward cardiac rehab.
One invaluable use of those Giving From Within funds is directed toward sending cardiac rehab staff to the state conference and foster enhanced learning opportunities. Another is focused on gaining an important certification.
“In 2015 our national organization gave the first CCRP (Certified Cardiac Rehabilitation Professional) national certification test,” says Barb. “I took it and passed it, and then at that point I challenged all of my staff that if they would take it and pass it that we would use Giving From Within funds to pay for the testing. Veronica Garcia took it at the state meeting last year and passed it, and became the first person on our staff to earn the CCRP merit.
“The greatest thing that our cardiac rehab staff has gained is continuing education paid for through the funds. We don’t have to worry about not paying for conferences and other venues that are valuable learning tools.”
The CHRISTUS Spohn Cardiac Rehab program offers electrocardiograph-monitored exercise, education, counseling and support for patients and their families to help people who experience a cardiac event or heart disease to recover faster, return to more full and productive lives and reduce the risk and severity of future heart disease.
It’s a calling that’s near and dear to Flato’s own heart.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and it’s my passion,” says Barb. “I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life and I love coming to work every day. What more could you ask for in a job?”
Champion for Our PATH Forward at CHRISTUS Spohn
Dr. Salim Surani has many titles, ranging from distinguished researcher and renowned pulmonologist to esteemed associate professor and valued mentor.
However, his most fitting designation dovetails perfectly into the valuable mission of CHRISTUS Spohn Health System: health care champion of the Coastal Bend.
Surani has spent more than two decades with CHRISTUS Spohn, serving thousands of patients from across South Texas, but his first thoughts of the area were that it would be a nice place to spend a little bit of time.
“I originally thought I’d only be in Beeville and Corpus Christi for a year, but my wife and I fell in love with South Texas. We love the community and it has embraced us,” says Surani, Director of Critical Care Services at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital-Memorial.
That sense of community is what Surani says made his family want to make Corpus Christi its home, which is a great thing when talking about the most prevalent medical conditions in the area. Surani’s focus remains on critical care, but he also has a passion for helping the community he serves, specifically children and the issues they face, including tobacco use, diabetes and obesity, and sleep deprivation.
Surani who mentors and trains faculty at the Mayo Clinic, Scott & White and the University of North Texas, in addition to his numerous other callings, recognizes more than most just how quickly health care has changed and continues to change. That’s precisely why he is such a strong advocate for CHRISTUS Spohn’s comprehensive plan, Our PATH Forward — People & Actions Transforming Healthcare.
Surani was the first physician to pledge a financial contribution toward Our PATH.
“Our PATH Forward will allow CHRISTUS Spohn to invest in technology and infrastructure, which in turn will help improve education and help improve patient care,” says Surani. “All of our services also are optimum for patient care, especially with the number of specialists who will be on site at the new Shoreline campus.”
Surani, who still remembers the blueprints from the original pavilion expansion at Shoreline, has been vital in planning for the future needs of health care in our region. The need is now greater than ever to recruit, train and invite the best and brightest to CHRISTUS Spohn.
“If you have a vision and structure for your educational programs, it helps to attract the best physicians,” says Surani.
Karen Bonner (at podium), Vice President for Philanthropy of the CHRISTUS Spohn Foundation, installs new volunteer presidents during the annual volunteer meeting. Presidents, from left, are Cynthia Martinez – Memorial; Norma Burnside – South; Delia Alvarez – Kleberg; Olga Bell – Shoreline; and Imelda Gonzalez – Alice.
CHRISTUS Spohn Volunteers Vital to Our Healing Ministry
“It’s hard to imagine CHRISTUS Spohn's hospitals without our volunteers.”
Marissa Carrillo, CHRISTUS Spohn’s Director of Volunteer Services, knows just how important it is to have the support of the hundreds of individuals who are called to help serve the hospital system’s mission and ministry.
In fact, those men, women and youths are vital to the daily operations of six hospital campuses across South Texas and at the CHRISTUS Spohn Cancer Center.
“They are very much a part of our team,” says Carrillo. “Patients and their families are very comfortable around our volunteers. They offer smiles, the understanding ear, comfort and the healing touch.”
During 2015, more than 600 volunteers donated more than 134,000 hours of service to CHRISTUS Spohn and its mission — the equivalent of almost 5,600 days.
In addition to that valuable service, the volunteers also donated almost $240,000 to fund equipment and special projects throughout their facilities, says Carrillo.
There are multiple volunteer programs aimed at linking those who want to give back to CHRISTUS Spohn and the best area in which to help.
The adult volunteer program caters to anyone who would like to give of their time to CHRISTUS Spohn, while the college volunteer and junior volunteer programs are designed to provide Coastal Bend students with firsthand opportunities to understand the multiple career paths offered at hospitals and in health care fields. There is even a pet therapy volunteer program to help in healing. It is believed that the dogs that receive special training alter a room’s atmosphere by changing a stressful hospital stay into a more calming experience for CHRISTUS Spohn's patients.
CHRISTUS Spohn volunteers also were honored with multiple awards and honors at last year's annual Texas Association of Healthcare Volunteers Convention.
Imelda Gonzalez, President of the CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital-Alice volunteers, sums up the sentiment of many individuals who donate their service to our health care mission and ministry.
“Volunteering provides for me, personally, a deep feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment through the sharing of my time, skills and talents,” says Gonzalez.