Methodist Hospital | Atascosa: New name, same great care



Throughout the month of November, Methodist Hospital | Atascosa’s exterior signage will be changing as their hospital fully transitions to its new name. New signage within the hospital was revealed on Monday, Nov. 8 to reflect the hospital’s committment to its surrounding areas. Pictured are members of Methodist Hospital | Atascosa’s leadership team, William Dylla, Vice President of Clinical Operations; Amber Champagne, Vice President of Human Resources; Tonja Thigpen, Chief Nursing Officer; Rita Castillo, Vice President of Quality, Risk Management and Safety; Joe Vasquez, Chief Financial Officer; and Greg Seiler, Chief Executive Officer. PHOTO COURTESY OF LAUREN MCCORMICK

Throughout the month of November, Methodist Hospital | Atascosa’s exterior signage will be changing as their hospital fully transitions to its new name. New signage within the hospital was revealed on Monday, Nov. 8 to reflect the hospital’s committment to its surrounding areas. Pictured are members of Methodist Hospital | Atascosa’s leadership team, William Dylla, Vice President of Clinical Operations; Amber Champagne, Vice President of Human Resources; Tonja Thigpen, Chief Nursing Officer; Rita Castillo, Vice President of Quality, Risk Management and Safety; Joe Vasquez, Chief Financial Officer; and Greg Seiler, Chief Executive Officer. PHOTO COURTESY OF LAUREN MCCORMICK

Since its acquisition in July 2017, Methodist Hospital | South in Jourdanton has provided a higher quality of care for Atascosa County residents. In an effort to continue growing with its patients, the hospital is changing its name to better reflect the community it serves.

The new name, Methodist Hospital | Atascosa, brings with it the same great care with new services, advanced technology, minimally invasive experts and higher patient satisfaction.

“The renaming of our hospital demonstrates our commitment to Atascosa County and the surrounding areas,” said Greg Seiler, CEO of Methodist Hospital | Atascosa. “We are passionate about caring for our community members and providing exceptional and cost-effective healthcare to all.”

In September, Methodist Hospital | Atascosa welcomed Tonja Thigpen, MSN, CCNS, CCRN-K, NEABC, as their new Chief Nursing Officer (CNO).

“The renaming of our hospital is very exciting for us! For many of our staff, Atascosa County is their home, and that’s just what our new name represents—home,” said Thigpen. “We want our patients to feel at home with us and know that we are dedicated to ‘caring like family.’ We love being Atascosa County’s hospital.”

Methodist Hospital | Atascosa EMS Relations Manager Jason Miller and Fresca, along with Chief Financial Officer Joe Vasquez and Vice President of Clinical Operations William Dylla at the unveiling of the new interior signage on Monday morning. PHOTO COURTESY OF LAUREN MCCORMICK

Methodist Hospital | Atascosa EMS Relations Manager Jason Miller and Fresca, along with Chief Financial Officer Joe Vasquez and Vice President of Clinical Operations William Dylla at the unveiling of the new interior signage on Monday morning. PHOTO COURTESY OF LAUREN MCCORMICK

Thigpen joined the hospital after serving as the Assistant Chief Nursing Officer at Reston Hospital Center in Reston, Virginia. Thigpen has held several other leadership roles throughout her career, including Administrative Director of Nursing Operations and Practice at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Having served as a Nursing Director over several departments including, Critical Care, Emergency Department, Trauma and Adult Care Services, Thigpen brings extensive experience to the hospital.

Under Thigpen’s leadership, Methodist Hospital | Atascosa will continue to provide exceptional care to the community, meeting the needs of the patients and families in Atascosa County.

“We are growing with you and growing for you,” said Thigpen. “As we’re growing with the community to meet their needs, we’re growing for you, providing care options that keep you close to home.”

Opening ceremonies for Mercy Hospital took place on Dec. 30, 1956 in Jourdanton and featured speeches by Dr. U.B. Ogden and Leon Steinle. The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and Incarnate Word of Victoria managed the hospital for almost 50 years. PHOTO COURTESY OF ATASCOSA COUNTY HISTORICAL COMMISSION

Opening ceremonies for Mercy Hospital took place on Dec. 30, 1956 in Jourdanton and featured speeches by Dr. U.B. Ogden and Leon Steinle. The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and Incarnate Word of Victoria managed the hospital for almost 50 years. PHOTO COURTESY OF ATASCOSA COUNTY HISTORICAL COMMISSION

New services, medical professionals

In line with its name change, Methodist Hospital | Atascosa welcomed more services through their new robotic-assisted technology. Previously, Seiler explained there was a limit to the type of surgeries available at the hospital.

“Now that we have this new technology, the breadth and scope of surgeries we can provide has expanded,” said Seiler.

The robot itself is a tool that enhances minimallyinvasive approaches to various surgical procedures, providing multiple benefits ultimately leading to better patient outcomes. A trained surgeon uses the robotic technology as an instrument in the operating room, leveraging the 3D high-definition views for a crystal-clear view of the surgical area that is magnified 10-times to what the human eye sees. Surgeons use tiny instruments that move like a human hand but with a far greater range of motion, allowing for more precision, flexibility and control—even in more complex cases.

Other surgeries that the hospital can offer with this minimally-invasive technology include inguinal hernia repairs, ventral hernia repairs, appendix removals, gallbladder surgeries and colorectal surgeries for patients with colon or rectal conditions and gynecological surgeries for patients requiring a hysterectomy.

With this new technology, Methodist Hospital | Atascosa welcomes new, highly-qualified surgeons to their hospital to utilize this robot, including general surgeons Dr. John Paek and Dr. Rex L. Farrer and GYN surgeon Dr. Abraham A. Alecozay, who have all completed fellowships in robotic surgery.

“The expertise of these physicians is critical to providing exceptional care and successful outcomes through robotic-assisted surgeries,” said Seiler. “We welcome these new surgeons to Methodist Hospital | Atascosa and are very fortunate to have grown our medical staff to continue serving our community members.”

Additionally, the hospital plans to offer dialysis to its patients in the near future.

Patient satisfaction

With a higher quality of care comes better patient outcomes and higher patient satisfaction. One example of the care Methodist Hospital | Atascosa brings to its patients is that of Tom Sablatura of Orange Grove.

In August, Sablatura was mid-transport to a San Antonio hospital for COVID-19 when he ended up at Methodist Hospital | Atascosa instead. His family was worried that he needed to be in a bigger hospital, but that soon changed once Sablatura was admitted. He told his daughter, Heather Mutz, that he didn’t want to be transferred as his care had been amazing in such a short time.

Mutz explained that the communication she received from Methodist Hospital | Atascosa staff was nothing like some of her friends experienced elsewhere. She praised the care of hospital staff who listened to her requests about her father’s care, the respiratory therapist who prayed with him at his bedside and the nurse who sang gospel hymns with him.

“Never did we expect for him to have that kind of personal care where he’s not just another patient, especially with COVID. To have that one-on-one attention was so great,” said Mutz. “We really felt like this was God’s plan for us … it was just a perfect match for him to be there.”

A history of Atascosa

County’s hospital

According to the Atascosa County Historical Commission, as transportation increased through the county with the creation of major highways, the number of vehicular accidents and fatalities increased. In 1952, 13 fatalities and many serious injuries were reported. The need for a hospital became critical, as the two small hospitals in Pleasanton and Poteet were incapable of handling major trauma and complex surgical procedures. Ground was broken on a new hospital after a huge community and county effort to match a federal grant as fundraisers were held weekly for two years to raise the funds. On Dec. 30, 1956, an open house of the new facility took place on land donated by the Whitfield Family in Mr. Ray Whitfield’s memory.

Mercy Hospital began operations on Monday, Jan. 8, 1957, in Jourdanton. The 21-bed community hospital was managed by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and Incarnate Word of Victoria until 1987. To meet the demand for nurses, the Mercy Hospital School of Vocational Nursing was established in 1968. In the 1980s, another management group took over the operation of the hospital, changing its name to Tri- City Community Hospital. South Texas Regional Medical Center opened up in the current location off Hwy. 97 in 2000, to which the former location was abandoned. Methodist Healthcare System, a partnership with HCA and Methodist Healthcare Ministries, announced the acquisition of South Texas Regional Medical Center on July 1, 2017, naming the new 67-bed hospital, Methodist Hospital | South. Today, that same great care stands on the history of its foundation under a new name, Methodist Hospital | Atascosa.

“Methodist Healthcare System has owned our hospital for over four years, and thanks to our partnership with the system, we’re able to offer advanced care right here without patients having to drive to San Antonio,” said Seiler. “We look forward to changing with the community, for the community under our new name.”

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