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Crossroads Ten Most Powerful - #9 David Brown

By Sonny Long
April 21, 2009 at 11 p.m.
Updated June 22, 2009 at 1:22 a.m.


Quick hits

Last book read: It was a management book, but I can't remember the title. Right now I am reading a book about Islam. I find that fascinating. I have an interest in the Middle East and the Far East. I just got an instructional DVD about India, but I haven't started it.

Best friends? I'm very family-centered in that respect. I have a lot of casual friends. I have a few very close friends who are mostly out of town. Being in the position like I'm in is very difficult in the sense that I have 1,300 people working for me and they are not my friends. There are just too many dynamics going on. My closest friends are in other walks of life.

Immediate family? I've been married 19 years. 29. 39. Let's work on this for a minute. This could be very important. 39 years. A long time by most standards. I have a daughter who is back in college studying interior design in San Marcos. My son is interested in construction.

Any pets? My wife has a Labrador retriever. It's her dog, but it's probably more mine. Nothing much expected of it except to behave.

David Brown strode confidently through the halls of Citizens Medical Center. He greeted those who passed him.

As the hospital's administrator for 27 years, he knows these hallways better than anyone.

What others say about Brown

"He's such a visionary to have foreseen all that has developed at Citizens."

"David has done an excellent job for more than 25 years at Citizens Medical Center. He has played a very large part in the success of the hospital."

"He isn't afraid to take heat for what's right. He's very firm when he makes up his mind."

"He's an autocratic administrator. I don't think he cares for the quality of care for the patient."

"He's a great leader and he's built a great hospital. He has high standards and he knows how to inspire others to reach those levels."

Telling details

What's on his desk?

"Mostly things I haven't done yet." A couple of pewter horned toads.

Hobbies?

"I enjoy things with motors on them. I just rebuilt my old Willis Jeep. I enjoy taking care of my yard. I'm probably the only person you'll interview for this that mows his own grass."

How do you wield power?

"I've officially declined on being powerful."

1974 - Discharged from U.S. Army.

1976 - Accepts first job after graduate school: assistant hospital administrator at Methodist Hospital in Lubbock.

1982 - Named administrator of what was then called Citizens Memorial Hospital in Victoria.

1985 - Named senior vice president by Methodist Hospital of Houston, which managed Citizens Medical Center. Maintained administrator post in Victoria.

1987 - Named chairman of Golden Coastal Hospital Division of Texas Hospital Association.

1988 - Named to advisory committee on trauma and emergency medical services of the Texas Hospital Association.

1989 - Named to advisory council of American College of Healthcare Executives.

Q/A

Who was your mentor and what did you learn? I have a fine appreciation for people who are self-made, in the sense that things aren't given to them. They earned them. They did it the hard way. There have been a couple of professors who did that, and a couple of physicians on our medical staff who made it on their own. I tend to look up to people who have made it on their own, but also have maintained a good perspective on the position they hold relative to the community and things that need to get done.

What is your favorite cause?

My cause is right here at Citizens Medical Center. When you look at all the things that are important in a community, health care is right at the top. There's only one thing more important than health care in any community, and that's education. But healthcare is so terribly important.

What one thing would you change about the Crossroads? Why?

On a level, I would bury the utility poles. On another level, what this community has done with re-expressing its educational system and redefining the schools, that's probably one of the most important things this community could do for itself right now. What I would also like to see them do is require more of their students. Many times students graduate from their high school without having the skills they need to be productive.

Spend Time With David Brown

David Brown laughed a lot, mostly chuckles, when questioned for this story. He said he has no power outside the hospital.

"One of the things that is a component of what you are looking for isn't so much power, but an opportunity for people to do things for the community that are important for the community, to advocate for the community," he said. "To evaluate very carefully things like the nuclear energy project and support it, which I certainly do. I think it's of critical importance to this community. Nuclear energy is the future for everyone, and we should not think we can exclude ourselves from that.

Brown said another concern he has in the community is its schools.

"I am anxious to see our schools do as well" as the hospital, he said. "Then this community can really take off."

However, he emphasized, his focus is on "making thishospital as good as it can be."

He said he does that primarily by assisting the medical staff.

"This hospital has done just exceptionally well. It's a very, very rare thing that you find a hospital of this ownership that has done as well as it has. That's attributable to the caregivers at this institution and the medical staff that directs them in that. What a wonderfulthing for Victoria."

A few days later, Brown attended a meeting about nursing shortages. During a later interview, Brown discussed his desire to be low-key about his personal life.

For example, during the interview, he didn't bring up his passion for motorcycle riding, but another source did. Asked about the omission, Brown chuckled again.

"There is such a fever for Harleys, and I ride a dirt bike," he said. "By the way, there are a lot of other things I didn't tell you about."

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