June 25, 2013

Todd Mann: The Art of Leadership

Todd Mann

I wrote this article for  the March, 2013 issue of RGV Beyond Arts & More.

When Todd Mann was hired in February of 2013 to be its newest CEO, Valley Baptist Medical Center was already 90 years in the making – and still evolving. Yet, the hospital remains a monument to healthcare in the Rio Grande Valley.
If we were to relate the history of Valley Baptist Medical Center to a work of art, this masterpiece was conceived in 1923 by a group of local visionaries who desired a modern medical facility for Harlingen when the only health service available was a 10-bed hospital inside a converted frame house. On January 22, 1925, a brand new 36-bed hospital was unveiled as a not-for-profit institution owned by the Lower Rio Grande Valley Baptist Association.

The foundation was set, the future envisioned, and the purpose defined by the masterstrokes of each individual leader. The hues of time brought rapid growth and changes in ownership for VBMC, and the vision inspired by early pioneers became a modern -?-bed medical center, and just like with monumental works of art, Valley Baptist Medical Center will continue to flourish with time.
VBMC is no longer a not-for-profit organization, for it was bought by Vanguard Health Systems 15 months ago. A new era has begun, but the work continues under the leadership of its new CEO: Todd Mann. “This truly is a mecca in terms of healthcare for the Valley; ninety years of history is pretty amazing, and to be a part of that, weather you’re in the first ten years of it, or the next ten years, is so important,” said Mann. He was born in the State of Florida, but his mother, a native of McAllen, Texas, introduced him to the unique culture of the Rio Grande Valley. With a shy grin, he fondly recalled the times shared with family in the Valley, particularly running around his grandfather’s office in Reynosa, Mexico. Such experiences help him understand the dynamics of the population of South Texas. “I love the Valley; to be back here and to provide healthcare to this community is something I always wanted to do.” Mann said, and added that knowing the area provides an advantage. “Anytime you bring somebody that understands the Valley, and with roots here, you break down barriers.”

Mann earned a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Texas in San Antonio, and a Master’s degree in health professions from South West Texas State University. He worked in Austin, Texas, as the market president for Hospital Partners of America before moving to the Rio Grande Valley as the CEO of Harlingen Medical Center, a position he held for four and a half years. Today, this zealous CEO channels all his energy into moving VBMC forward.

But the art of leading has many colors, and Mann will have to take on the demands of the local health Industry. Government funding, an increasing number of patients with diabetes and obesity, and the recruitment of qualified physicians into the Valley are pressing matters. There is also the high percentage of Medicaid patients assisted at VBMC, and decreased compensations. Plus the ever-changing government rules demanding to always adapt and change strategies.
Illiteracy casts a grim shadow on the Valley painting a grim picture and an even greater challenge when it comes to health education. “Bridging the gap of not only the corrective, but preventative care of the individual, might be the key for folks who may need help and support through the hospital,” said Mann. At the same time, he contemplates providing services that will educate and inform the public about diabetes, exercise, and a healthy diet, believing that if these services can correct, or even make a small dent, an individual’s lifespan will increase over time. He also stressed the importance of health education during childhood and adolescence as critical in preventing spiraling conditions.

Mann hopes that under his leadership people will see a heightened sense of relationships that will span across not only physicians, employees, and patients, but the entire community of the Rio Grande Valley. He believes building relationships will build trust. “I don’t want people to see me as anything other than a person that works at Valley Baptist; what I represent should be what the hospital represents. If you know me, and you trust me, it makes the experience at the hospital something different,” Mann stated.
VBMC has repositioned itself financially, and under its new CEO it is revamping itself by changing and rebranding. Eradiating modesty, Mann discussed plans to let the people know that despite recruiting obstacles, VBMC has managed to attract high caliber physicians for service lines such as trauma, orthopedics, and neurology. He knows it is time to reach out to the community and beyond to retirees from all over the country, and Mexican Nationals. “This is a lucrative market, and we are evaluating our marketing efforts for Mexican Nationals to come here; it is a vital part and we cannot ignore we are neighbors, and they have healthcare needs they want to receive in the United States,” he said. Areas such as women’s health, orthopedics and neurosciences will be the driving force that will convey this message to the public. “When I say you don’t have to leave the Valley for quality healthcare, you don’t. You have it right here. I’m glad to see we are progressing this way,” he said allowing a bit of emotion peek through his calm disposition.

Many things are developing in the Valley as Mann sets out his plan of work, for the potential of a four year medical school is in the horizon. The prospect of this effort excites Mann. He believes a medical school will be the final compliment for an area that has advanced its medical care. “It’s always difficult to recruit physicians into the Valley, but with this new school, we can grow our own,” assessed Mann. He knows physicians coming out of the program would prefer to stay in a familiar environment. With
them, and our modern medical facilities and technology, Mann believes the Valley will develop its own medical identity. “We are all going to benefit,” he stated.
With all these projects and challenges on the table, one must wonder if this six-foot-four CEO ever enjoys any leisure time. As it turns out, Mann enjoys lure fishing and hunting. For this avid sportsman, the proximity to the coast provides the relaxation he needs to get back on the job. We wish him the best as he continues in the footsteps of fearless leaders designing the legacy of Valley Baptist Medical Center.

Facebook Comments


About the Author

Tapia - Gonzales
La Vida Valle is where I write about "la vida" living in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Life, art and culture, poetry, prayers, travel, and camping! yes, that's my new thing. I blame the heat and high humidity for the madness. Contributions and comments are always welcome .


DHS Leadership Academy

New Leadership Academy at Texas Southmost College

What if the Valley had a community college that could design, develop and deliver quality workforce training programs for the private or public sectors in a short amount of time? The types of programs often associated with high...
by Tapia - Gonzales

Adrian Tapia Collage

Finding the Roots of my Passion

Have you ever felt a strong passion for something without understanding why? I am not referring to superficial things but desires such as playing an instrument, painting, writing and even a career path. Times when you’ve said...
by Tapia - Gonzales

Gonzalez elders

Immigrants: A Gonzalez Legacy by Frank Gonzalez Sr.

The year 2018 and very difficult times for immigrant families trying to flee from war-torn and violent environments in order to protect their families from certain harm and even death. It is difficult to understand why there st...
by La Vida Valle


Mission Children

The Tejanos of South Texas

The video at the visitors center at Mission San Jose in San Antonio concluded with an interesting dialogue between a child and her mother. The child states that the indigenous people who lived in the mission have all died, but...
by Tapia - Gonzales

Nana's Taqueria of Weslaco

The Tasty Side of Immigration

We celebrate Hispanic Heritage month from mid-September to mid-October, but let us think of those who came to the United States from Mexico in search of a better life and by doing so improved our own lives. The list I have comp...
by Tapia - Gonzales