JPS Health Network’s board of managers has welcomed three new members since October, a shift caused in part by turnover on the Tarrant County Commissioners Court.
The three newcomers are Dr. Margaret Holland, a family medicine physician with Baylor Scott & White; Tim Davis, an attorney with Jackson Walker; and Blake Woodard, a licensed life and health insurance agent with Woodard Insurance, LLP.
The 11-member board governs Tarrant County’s publicly funded hospital. Members hire and fire the CEO and approve the hospital’s budget, among other duties. They serve without pay and are appointed by county commissioners.
Tarrant County Judge Tim O’Hare appointed Davis and Woodard after his victory in November. O’Hare was the first of three newly elected court members to select appointees.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Manny Ramirez plans to do so soon, his chief of staff Tracey Knight wrote in an email. Precinct 2 Commissioner Alisa Simmons did not immediately respond to an interview request.
Dr. Margaret Holland
Holland, a Fort Worth native, grew to know JPS Health Network from the inside in the 2010s.
As a medical student at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, she conducted research on the relationship between back pain and depression at JPS. Afterward, she became a resident in the hospital’s family medicine program.
“Honestly, I feel very indebted to JPS,” Holland said. Her gratitude for the county hospital fueled her acceptance of the board appointment. She replaced Dr. Charles Webber in October.
Former Precinct 4 Commissioner J.D. Johnson appointed her before the county elections, when Webber decided to step down. Board members serve for at least two years after their appointment, according to hospital bylaws.
Holland, the lone physician with an M.D. on the board, said she brings a “medical perspective” to complement her colleagues’ viewpoints. Dr. Steven Simmons, her fellow board member, has a D.O.
“(The other members) have knowledge bases that I don’t have, but I can bring it all back to what’s good for the care of patients,” she said.
O’Hare met Davis several years ago, O’Hare said. As attorneys, their circles overlapped. Davis’ legal acumen will serve him well on the board, O’Hare said.
“Anything related to government is so heavily intertwined with law,” O’Hare told the Report. “So understanding the law, being able to interpret the law and sometimes having a different view of the law, being able to explain it, that’s one thing I think (Davis) will bring to the table.”
Davis, who lives in Southlake, earned a bachelor’s in political science from Harding University and his J.D. from Northern Kentucky University. He was a partner at Cantey Hanger LLP before joining Jackson Walker in February, according to his LinkedIn. He agreed to his board appointment out of gratitude for the “rich” role JPS plays in the community, he said.
Because Davis is new, he’s not ready to share his priorities. Instead, he’s working to learn “everything there is to learn about JPS.”
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about JPS,” he said. “And I’m not reading about something for JPS, and I’m not contemplating my role and my responsibilities.”
O’Hare, whose priorities for JPS include financial efficiency, said he trusts Davis to identify inefficiencies. “Any bureaucracy tends to grow and bloat and waste,” O’Hare said. “He’ll look for that. He’ll find it.”
Efficiency, Davis added, allows for the delivery of more services. “The narrative sometimes becomes, ‘Oh, you know, folks just want to slash and burn.’ That’s not it at all. They want to provide the most efficient services so they can provide the best and most services.”
Davis comes from a family of health care providers. His mom is a nurse. His sister is a physician. His wife is a pharmacist. “They’re all scratching their heads, saying ‘Why is this lawyer on this board?’” Davis said, laughing. “More than anything, I’m pledging to make them proud.”
As for Woodard, he met O’Hare during the latter’s campaign for county judge: Woodard wanted to talk taxes, so his brother, Don Woodard Jr., introduced the two men. Don Woodard Jr. gave nearly $200,000 in cash and in-kind donations to O’Hare’s campaign, according to previous Fort Worth Report reporting.
Blake Woodard had balked after his home appraisal increased but county tax cuts didn’t keep pace. In his campaign, O’Hare proposed to lower property tax rates by 20%. “We need to get more money back in people’s pockets, not more money in the government’s pockets,” O’Hare told the Report.
Woodard agreed with the premise; a few months later, O’Hare asked him to join the board of managers.
Woodard earned his bachelor of business administration in finance from Texas Christian University. The year he graduated, 1986, he became a partner of Woodard Insurance, LLP and has worked there ever since.
Twenty years ago, JPS Health Network hired the company for a consulting job.
“I’m very familiar with the entire JPS benefit set,” he said, “And have helped doctors for years — either when they were outside of JPS contracting in or employed by JPS — with benefit issues.”
He’s been struck, again and again, by JPS physicians’ passion for their work. He advocated for them in his second board meeting in February.
The board was considering a bylaw change that would remove physicians from the governance committee, which oversees compliance, among other issues. Woodard opened the floor for discussion, concerned about the loss of physician expertise. After agreement from Dr. Janet Miles, president of the medical staff, the board voted not to change the bylaw.
O’Hare selected both Davis and Woodard because he didn’t want the board to become a group of rubber-stampers.
“(The board members’) role is to oversee, sometimes say no, come up with ideas — people that can be creative and efficient, and people that understand business,” O’Hare said.
Woodard’s priorities include delivering a budget to the Commissioners Court that allows the commissioners to reduce the hospital district’s tax rate. He’s also concerned about cybersecurity in general.
He’s hopeful to receive feedback from people in Tarrant County and help make JPS an “even better organization.”
“I’m not important. I’m just a board member,” he said. “We don’t serve patients, we don’t deliver any health care. We’re there to serve everybody else.”
How does the hospital district’s tax rate work?
The Commissioners Court votes to set both the county and hospital district’s tax rate based on the board of managers’ recommendation. The rate is a fraction of residents’ overall tax bill.
Historically, the hospital district’s tax rate is similar to the county’s, hovering around $0.2 per $100 valuation. The tax income funds capital projects and operating expenses for the hospital system, according to previous Fort Worth Report reporting.
Since 2015, the hospital district’s tax rate has been stagnant or decreased. However as property values rise, tax payers will likely still receive a higher tax bill year over year.
Alexis Allison is the health reporter at the Fort Worth Report. Her position is supported by a grant from Texas Health Resources. Contact her by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.