Joe Bob Burgin
Sulphur Springs, TX
Trustee, Hopkins County District Board and CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Northeast Texas Board of Directors
Joe Bob Burgin has made it his mission to ensure Sulphur Springs, TX has the top-quality health care. He has spent nearly three decades serving on his hospital board, during that team he has been involved with a multi-million-dollar expansion and a significant merger. THT met with Burgin to learn more about his health care career and what he sees on the horizon for the industry.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Sulphur Springs. I graduated from East Texas State University in 1965, which is now Texas A&M University-Commerce. I started my own business, Joe Bob’s Convenience Stores in 1987 and have been doing that ever since.
How did you get involved on your hospital board?
It’s true story; when my wife Linda and I realized our boys were going to get married and raise their families in Sulphur Springs I wanted the best health care we could have in a rural setting for my family. That’s the reason I ran for the hospital board, it’s an elected position, when it was Hopkins County Memorial Hospital. And I have been on [the hospital board] for 25 years.
How did you get involved with THT?
Our hospital board agreed we needed more education and training, and more collaboration with our peers; that’s when we joined THT. I also wanted to get more involved in health care, the THT CEO at the time came to our hospital’s CEO about getting a trustee engaged with THT at the state level and I started from there. It’s been a great experience.
What are you looking forward to in your upcoming year as board chair?
I’ve really enjoyed serving with such great people, such smart people, and everyone at THT is so great. It’s really been a great experience for me. I look forward to continuing that work together.
What do you see as the biggest challenge trustees are going to face over the next few years?
I think hospital mergers, out of necessity, are going to continue to increase. The big get bigger and the small hospitals are going to have a challenging time staying afloat. We are seeing that right now with a lot of hospitals; the small hospitals are having a real difficult time with the bottom line right now. Hopkins County Memorial Hospital was in that situation; we weren’t broke, but our profits were declining. That’s when we merged with CHRISTUS, because the large facilities have so much – they have more buying power, have better recruitment, which was important because rural hospitals have a hard time recruiting.
I think that’s the biggest challenge — the bottom line. And that’s the reason we did it early, we didn’t want to be the last man standing.
What has been the most rewarding thing about your board service?
Two things, about 8-10 years ago we did a $40 million expansion and remodel to the hospital and the other is the successful merger with CHRISTUS in 2016. And those mergers aren’t easy, they don’t happen overnight.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a board member?
Continuing education. Health care is changing so rapidly, especially over the last few years, that to be a good board member you have to keep your education up. And putting a tag on THT is one way to do it.
What advice would you give to a new hospital board member?
The most important thing to remember is you are on that board to govern. Not to manage. And I’ve been with board members where that is kind of hard for them to do. But you have to remember what your role is and that’s to govern and if you want to be a good board member and really involved then get on committees within your board… And I go back to continuing education because things are ever-evolving.