Entrepreneur and outgoing Fort Worth City Council member Leonard Firestone is the newest addition to JPS Health Network’s board of managers.
He is the fourth member to join in recent months, a changing of the guard that comes primarily in response to the Tarrant County Commissioners Court elections in November.
“Leonard Firestone has an incredible reputation in Fort Worth and Tarrant County for being a problem-solver, somebody who really, deeply cares about the community, and somebody who can get things done,” Precinct 4 County Commissioner Manny Ramirez told the Fort Worth Report before Tuesday’s commissioners court meeting.
Ramirez appointed Firestone as an at-large member during the meeting. The court approved, voting unanimously.
What does the JPS board do?
The 11-member board governs Tarrant County’s publicly funded hospital. Members hire and, if necessary, fire the CEO, and approve the hospital’s budget, among other duties. They serve without pay and are appointed by county commissioners.
Firestone, who represents District 7 on the Fort Worth City Council, will replace Dr. Steven Simmons, one of two physicians on the board. The other, Dr. Margaret Holland, began her tenure in October.
Ramirez isn’t worried about the loss of a physician’s perspective on the board, he said.
“The president is a physician,” he said, referring to JPS President and CEO Dr. Karen Duncan. “A board and a CEO and a president must complement each other. A board should provide perspective that the CEO and president doesn’t have.”
Ramirez met Firestone through the latter’s business, Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. — the creator of TX Whiskey. Firestone has a “strong business mind,” Ramirez said.
“The board needs more business experience and folks that have a mind to focus their efforts on effectively managing the billion-dollar company that is JPS,” he said.
The other board members bring a variety of backgrounds to the table, including nursing and engineering. Several members have business experience. The hospital’s bylaws don’t require that specific professions be represented on the board.
Dorothy DeBose, who chairs the JPS board, said she’ll miss having the second physician’s perspective. However, she said, board members need expertise in both health and business.
“Physicians will be required to learn the fiscal side,” she said. “The business side will be required to understand the health care system.”
The learning curve will be steep, Firestone said. However, he thinks the lessons he gleaned while navigating the growth of his own company will serve him well as he helps govern a growing hospital in a growing county.
“When you begin to look at decisions that are going to be made based on budget management, from real estate to capital expenditures, the appropriate infrastructure, the personnel levels … the marketing, their communication and PR, all of those things, they are applicable in the health care industry just as they are in any other industry,” he said.
Alexis Allison is the health reporter at the Fort Worth Report. Her position is supported by a grant from Texas Health Resources. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter.
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