Spotlight on Gary Eubank, chief nursing officer, Correctional Managed Care

Nov 20, 2017, 11:16 AM by KirstiAnn Clifford
Gary Eubank enjoying a trip to Austria with his church choir.
Gary Eubank joined UTMB Correctional Managed Care’s management team in 2005. In his role as chief nursing officer, he oversees the nursing services provided to approximately 120,000 offenders at 83 prisons in the UTMB sector.

Prior to UTMB, Eubank had served as a chief nursing officer at tertiary-level hospitals in the not-for-profit and for-profit sectors since 1983. He has had the opportunity to redesign the health care delivery system in several hospitals in Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Florida and Ohio. He has participated in the building of two acute care hospitals, and continues to provide consulting services to acute care hospitals focusing on staffing plans, assessing productivity and implementing budgeting systems.

Eubank first began his career in health care in 1970, as an orderly while working toward a bachelor’s degree in nursing at the University of Oklahoma. He received a master’s degree in Nursing from Texas Woman’s University.

We’ve just celebrated UTMB’s tremendous success with Best Care. UTMB CMC is a national leader in providing the highest quality of care at the lowest cost and is known for its innovative programs and creative solutions in the fields of correctional health care. What are your thoughts on how UTMB can maintain its high performance long-term?
It is so valuable to always strive to make improvements—and track your progress—when it comes to providing evidence-based care to patients. For example, UTMB CMC has created a clinical dashboard that clearly illustrates key system information to all stakeholders and also provides a means for data-driven decision-making in our improvement activities. This includes a review of specific patient outcomes, important information for medication management, access-to-care indicators, specialty care information and telehealth activity. The dashboard is designed to provide multiple layers of reporting, including overall system information, regional information, facility information and individual patient information.

Using the clinical dashboard, we have exceeded goals set within the last few years. One clinical indicator we recently completed was to get 80 percent of patients with diabetes who were continuously incarcerated during the last 12 months to have a nephropathy screening completed by May 31, 2017. By being able to target specific patients and track our progress, we went beyond that goal and got 88 percent of those patients screened—leading to quicker treatment and better health outcomes.

What challenges do nurses face in the correctional managed care setting?
Nurses in a correctional environment must have a vast array of assessment and interventional skills. We treat patients with fungal diseases, rashes, sore throats—and we must also respond to emergency situations as the first responder. Nursing is the patient’s lifeline for health and wellness. We have to be excellent outpatient nurses while at the same time, care for those patients whose acuity requires an inpatient level of care at one of our infirmaries.

What would you tell nurses who are thinking about transitioning to correctional managed care?
Several of our nurses have told me they felt a “calling to corrections.” Providing excellent nursing and medical care behind bars is one of the most rewarding opportunities one can experience. Our patients do not have a choice as to where they go for their health care. We are their only choice. It is incumbent upon us to provide our patient population with the highest level of health care, employing the values that UTMB stands for, and exemplifying the pride of the university as we care for a less-fortunate population. This is how we go about working together to work wonders in correctional health care!

What inspired you to pursue a career in correctional managed care?
I was working out of state, but my heart was still in Texas. I got a call from Dr. Owen Murray, our vice president for Offender Health Services, telling me about this opportunity to come to prison. He is so energetic when he describes correctional health and the joy of working for UTMB. I was quite skeptical at first, but Murray described the vast array of challenges and rewards one receives from working in a correctional environment. I accepted his offer and believe my position as CMC chief nursing officer was an answer to prayer. I have thoroughly enjoyed my 12 years here.

What is your proudest accomplishment?
I have two beautiful adult daughters. My oldest lives in a suburb of Kansas City with her husband. They are both elementary school teachers. My youngest daughter lives in Katy with her husband and 10-year-old daughter. He is completing his final year of law school at the University of Houston. She is a program officer for Fund for Teachers, a nonprofit organization. She and her husband are providing me with another granddaughter in March!

What’s the best advice anyone’s ever given you?
John Donne wrote, “Any man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind.” I read that in English class my junior year in high school. It has had a profound impact on me and I often reflect on those words as I care for the patients and staff at UTMB CMC.

What is your favorite book?
The Bible. I continuously read it over and over again.

Movie?
The Lion King. I love the music and the storyline. I have even seen the live performance at the Hobby Center in Houston.

What do you like to do outside of work?
In addition to spending time with my family, I can also be found with my yellow Lab named Boomer and a miniature schnauzer named Sooner.

What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
I am very active in the music ministry of my church in The Woodlands. Our choir is made up of over 100 singers and a full orchestra that plays each Sunday. There’s a group of us who pay our own way to go on tour every two years in countries across Europe. The people there love to see and hear a choir from Texas. Everyone wants to know where our cowboy hats are and if we still ride horses and have cattle and all the other stereotypical Texas stuff. So far, we have gone to Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Poland and the Czech Republic.