New Direction > February 8, 2019

Memorial Hospital board taps Gary Stokes as our new interim leader.

There has been a lot of excitement, media coverage and positive buzz generated with the recent appointment of Gary Stokes as Memorial Hospital’s new interim CEO. Gary has more than 40 years experience in the healthcare arena, most notably as the CEO of Nacogdoches Medical Center from 2005 to 2015. The Nacogdoches County Hospital District Board of Directors tapped him to step into our interim administrator spot during a special meeting earlier this week.

Gary is a native of Colorado and his healthcare career started after he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southern Nazarene University and a master’s in health care administration from Washington University School of Medicine. With an itch to get back to work after his original retirement in 2015, Gary ventured into interim work last year and was very interested in the top spot at Memorial.

“When I retired from NMC, I filled my time with community service, but there was something missing,” he said. “I’m a very structured person and not working was totally an issue for me.”

Gary’s enthusiasm for healthcare work has taken him to many different locations, including California, Arkansas, Ohio, New Jersey and Texas. It also sent him to Okinawa, Japan, as well as Bethesda, MD and San Diego, CA in service to his country through the Navy Medical Service Corps. He served as director of administrative services for a combat-zone hospital in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm.

His length of service has taught him many lessons about healthcare, but one thing rings true no matter where the journey has taken him. “This job is all about relationships and people, and when you look at a hospital it’s basically the quality of care and patient safety first, and then you have to take care of your people,” he explained. “I break that into three groups, which are your employees, your physicians and your patients. If you’ve got happy employees and happy physicians, you’ll have HAPPY patients.”

Along with his own years of industry experience, Gary plans to seek insight from those who have been fighting for the cause here at Memorial. “I like to get input, I like to have people buy into what’s going on. I’m a good listener; I want to draw people out and see what their feelings are and I want them to make recommendations,” he says.

A more personal reason for accepting this position was his and his family’s strong feelings for the Nacogdoches community. His wife Cassandra owns three Newk’s restaurants, including the Nacogdoches location, and four of his kids are NISD graduates. A fifth is currently a freshman at Nacogdoches High School.

“We love this community. We’ve been here for fourteen years now, and the idea of giving back and helping people has always been important to me,” he said. “I thought that maybe I could make a difference at Memorial.”

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