Ben Casey Quiroz is seeking a second four-year term on the Ector County Hospital District Board on May 1. But he’ll have to fend off a challenge from newcomer Kathy Rhodes for the District 7 board seat.
Quiroz, a chiropractor at HQ Chiropractic in Odessa, said he is seeking re-election because he has the experience and leadership skills to make sure Medical Center Hospital continues to provide quality services to the community.
“The reason for running for the hospital board again is to assure not only my constituents but the entire community we have strong leadership and a bright future at MCH,” Quiroz said. “Over the last 4 years we have overcome many obstacles like changes in administration, a mass shooting, financial struggles and a global pandemic.
“I am currently the only member on the board actively in healthcare. It is important to have a healthcare provider on the board to bring perspective to decision making and strategic planning. I want to see current projects through completion.”
Those projects include providing affordable housing for healthcare workers and developing more community partnerships, Quiroz said. For example, he noted the collaboration between MCH and Odessa College, to create the first community college simulation hospital.
“I also want to help with the evolution of our relationship with Texas Tech and their participation in creating quality healthcare providers for our region,” Quiroz said.
Rhodes and her husband are the co-owners of Custom Wholesale Supply and Johnstone Supply Chain specializing in the wholesale of heating and air condition systems – a family-owned business in operation for 45 years.
Rhodes said she decided to make a bid for the board seat because residents need their voices heard, and she wants to make sure future decisions made by the hospital are fiscally responsible.
“There is an old saying I am reminded of when I think about how my candidacy for this office has come to be, that the office should seek the person, rather than the person the office,” Rhodes said. “It is a humbling experience to have had this adventure begin exactly in this manner, with so many members and leaders of our community spontaneously reaching out to me and urging me to run.
“In running I want the constituents of our district to know this campaign isn’t about me, rather it is about making sure our community is served with the finest healthcare possible, that their voices are heard and taken with me when I vote, and that the taxpayer’s resources are treated with the fiscal prudence that we all take in our businesses.”
Rhodes said several major issues need to be addressed. Those include making sure medical billing costs are transparent and predictable.
“Another major issue is honoring the commitments we made to those who spent their careers working for our hospital and caring for our community,” Rhodes said. “Taking away the healthcare benefits that our retirees earned was disgraceful, and if elected I will ensure this never happens again.”
Rhodes is referring to a controversial board decision in 2016, to approve administration’s request to strip a group of retirees’ original healthcare benefits and give them health reimbursement accounts instead so the hospital could save money. The group of about 300 retirees then filed a lawsuit against the hospital and the board, but in April 2017 a judge ruled in favor of the hospital.
The group of retirees appealed, and after an election in May 2017 all incumbent board members in four of the seven districts were voted off the hospital board and the hospital’s CEO, CFO and other executive team members announced their resignations. A settlement agreement was finally reached in October 2018.
“Being fiscally prudent and conservative not only means using taxpayer resources with extreme care, but also requires looking after the structural outlook of the hospital,” Rhodes said. “Part of that includes evaluating whether the hospital should remain in the newly created TIRZ district, especially in the light of costs stemming from COVID.”
Quiroz did not address the benefits controversy, but credits the current board and new administration with helping to mend fences and providing strong leadership during the community’s struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The people in our administration are local heroes,” Quiroz said. “(MCH CEO and President Russell) Tippin and his team have knocked it out of the park with the handling of the mass vaccination clinics and tirelessly serving our community.
“We want to make sure we allow them to do their job and encourage and support their vision for MCH’s future.”
Quiroz added: “The retiree fund continues to work and provide the past employees healthcare benefits. MCH will continue to provide support for all our current and past employees.”
Quiroz said the hospital needs to improve community awareness of life-saving procedures MCH offers like TAVR and WATCHMAN. He also believes the hospital can do a better job of educating the community about preventable diseases like hypertension and diabetes.
“It is time for Odessa to take ownership of our opportunities and a key component of that is providing quality healthcare for the region,” Quiroz said. “MCH has a lot of opportunity in the next 4 years without the distraction of COVID and the right leadership.”
Rhodes identifies herself as a “Christian, wife, mother, grandmother, conservative and businesswoman.” While residing in Phoenix, she attended Glendale Community College and Arizona State. She and her husband have been married 39 years and have three children.
A breast and skin cancer survivor, Rhodes is a motivational speaker on both subjects, and her efforts have been recognized by numerous organizations, including the American Cancer Society.
She is the incoming vice-regent of the Daughters of The American Revolution Nathaniel Davis Chapter. A longtime member of the Odessa Downtown Lions Club, Rhodes is currently the Lions Regional Diabetic Chairman for District 2T3. She is also a VIP Patron of the Ector County Republican Women.
Quiroz, who was born and raised in Odessa, is a 1997 graduate of Permian High School. He earned a bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Texas in San Antonio and Doctor of Chiropractic from Parker University. He and his wife Betty have three sons, Adrian, Andrew and Cash.
He currently serves as board chairman of the Odessa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, is a District 15 representative of the State Bar of Texas Grievance Committee and TIRZ Board MCH Representative.
Recent awards and recognition’s include Odessa Under 40 in 2019, PA. Wilmon Rural Chiropractor of the Year, 2018, Medical Center Hospital Volunteer of the Year, 2017 and Hispanic Heritage Hispanic Healthcare Professional of the Year, 2017.