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Patricia A. Young Brown, President & CEO – Letter concerning her plans to retire from public service

The following was submitted to Central Health Board of Managers Chairperson Katrina Daniel on Oct. 3, 2016.

A downloadable PDF is also available.

October 3, 2016

Katrina Daniel, Chair Central Health Board of Managers

Dear Katrina,

I am writing to share with you my decision to retire from public service after a long and satisfying career working to significantly expand, improve and secure for the future, the Austin/Travis County safety-net health care system. Thus, this letter will serve as my notice to you and the Board of Managers of my decision not to renew my employment contract beginning calendar year 2017. Pursuant to the terms of my employment agreement, I am obligated to provide 90-days written notice of my intent not to renew and therefore, my last day of employment will be December 31, 2016. The completion of my service at Central Health will bring to a close over 16 years of dedicated, productive and accomplished years of public service to our community: almost 5 years as CEO of the City of Austin Community Care Services Department, the programs and services of which were transferred to Central Health upon its creation in 2004, and over 11 years as the founding President and CEO of Central Health.

As you are aware, I entered a Masters in Spiritual Formation program at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest two years ago and participate in the No One Dies Alone program (NODA), serving individuals, and their families, who are in the process of dying. The loss of two of my four sons almost 5 and 7 seven years ago, along with my recent studies and my volunteer work, have served a prophetic discernment process for me. It is time for me to embark upon new learnings and to pursue the places where my heart is leading me.

I want to thank you and the Board of Managers, both past and present, for the opportunity to lead Central Health since its inception and to provide the vision and strategic leadership necessary to build this vibrant and essential safety-net healthcare system for our community. Since its creation by the voters of Travis County in May of 2004, Central Health and its associated entities CommUnityCare, Sendero and the Community Care Collaborative (CCC) have grown from infancy, to adolescence and now, into adulthood.

As our state Senator Kirk Watson has said many times, Central Health has grown from start-up to successful in a very short period of time. And we have embarked upon healthcare transformation for the entire community, in particular our uninsured and underinsured neighbors, with the passage of Prop 1 in November 2012. At that most important point in time, the voters of Travis County once again agreed to tax themselves to create the new Dell Medical School and support Central Health’s creation of the Community Care Collaboration in conjunction with the Seton Healthcare Family. The community’s vote of confidence in Central Health in November 2012 also resulted in the addition to our community of a new, state of the art Level 1 trauma teaching hospital, the new Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas at Austin, to be opened in May of 2017 which will serve the entire community including our most vulnerable neighbors.

Central Health is at a key moment in its existence. It has forged a strong path forward for improved healthcare for its residents. The entire healthcare industry is in a state of change: federal, state and local. Healthcare for the safety-net consists of a tangled and interconnected web of federal, local and philanthropic funding. Central Health has created a valuable asset for our community through key strategic partnerships the first of which is its partnership with the Seton Healthcare Family, a wise decision made by the City of Austin in 1995 as the City faced financial crisis with its over 100-year old public hospital, the now University Medical Center Brackenridge. This partnership established by the City of Austin 21 years ago, which was inherited by Central Health upon its creation by the voters of Travis County in 2004, was and is the cornerstone of the safety-net system that exists today that allows the taxpayers of Travis County to avoid over 13 cents per $100 of valuation of taxation every year. Without this partnership, quality safety net healthcare would not be affordable for the taxpayers of Travis County.

With Seton as its partner, Central Health has been able to continue its investments in non-hospital care that is located in the community. Designed to improve the health of our neighbors, not just provide healthcare to them, our community health centers, such as the Southeast Health and Wellness Center, represent the future of safety-net health care in Travis County. And now with its newest partner the growing Dell Medical School, itself a start-up as Central Health was 11 years ago, Central Health has begun the transformation of healthcare so needed to make safety-net healthcare more effective from both quality and cost perspectives and, most importantly, to allow Central Health to continue to be part of the affordability solution for Austin by providing access to quality, affordable healthcare for its most vulnerable residents.

In order for Central Health to stay the course, it will be imperative to employ another leader that understands and embraces the new and shifting paradigm of healthcare delivery; that is, away from traditional fee-for-service payment and delivery models to value based care models that provide payment for outcomes and results which will improve the health of the community over time. Central Health should conduct a national search to attract candidates with the appropriate vision and understanding of the complex nature of the partnerships and interdependencies of our local healthcare ecosystem, candidates who will be able to maintain the long term vision and goals of our community’s health system transformation amidst the short term pressures of local community dynamics that can sometimes impact the pace of transformational change.

Currently, we are embarking upon the development and implementation of a performance review process for Central Health. This review will include the areas of: 1) planning and budgeting, 2) financial transparency and reporting and 3) organizational and Board governance. I recommend this review be expedited to provide meaningful information for the next President and CEO to be selected, as well as the Board of Managers to understand what will be needed to deliver on the promises made to the community in November 2012 with the passage of Prop 1. I am excited to participate in this review and should the review not be concluded by December 31, 2016, I am willing to make myself available to complete the process.

I have been blessed to employ and work with an amazing staff of gifted, committed and dedicated individuals who believe in our core value of serving the community. They choose to work here because they believe in our collective ability to positively impact the lives of members of our community, especially those most vulnerable, through good health. They are Central Health’s most valuable resource and they are key to Central Health’s continued success.

The future is bright for Central Health. I am so proud of our creative, transformational efforts over the years, including our progressive work to rethink how best to provide a safety net. The all-volunteer Board has invested significant time and effort to make bold, courageous and impactful decisions that will take years to be fully realized by the community. I am privileged and honored to have provided leadership and vision for the creation of this dynamic organization and I look forward to watching Central Health realize its vision of a model health community.

I am at your service to develop the appropriate transition plan and support the Board in its process of selecting its next leader.

With kindest regards and great appreciation,

Patricia A. Young Brown, CPA President and CEO