Spotlight on Bill Garwood, associate vice president of finance for community hospitals

Dec 20, 2017, 09:06 AM by KirstiAnn Clifford
Garwood and his wife, Charlotte, at the top of Turtlehead Peak in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas.
Bill Garwood joined the UTMB family in 2014, when he helped integrate the Angleton Danbury Campus with UTMB. For more than 30 years, he served as the senior financial officer of the Angleton Danbury Medical Center. In his current role as associate vice president of finance for community hospitals, his responsibilities recently expanded to include the financial management of UTMB’s League City Campus, as well.

Garwood earned his master’s degree in health care administration from Trinity University in San Antonio and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas at Austin.

We’ve just celebrated UTMB’s tremendous success with Best Care. What are your thoughts on how UTMB can maintain its five-star performance long-term?
I believe that UTMB can maintain our five-star rating as long as leadership continues to make Best Care a priority and keeps the subject as a focus. I think most of us thought UT System Chancellor William McRaven’s challenge was a great goal that would be nearly impossible to achieve—at least in such a short timeframe. But leadership made it a priority, everyone focused on the goal and we were all pleasantly amazed when success was achieved.

Your role as financial administrator recently expanded to include UTMB’s League City Campus. What are some of your goals for the coming year?
As you can imagine, my goals are heavily weighted toward achieving the budgets at both the Angleton Danbury Campus (ADC) and the League City Campus (LCC). Also, during the current fiscal year, ADC will be implementing a campus-specific strategic plan while LCC continues to move forward with its physical expansion. My goals include providing support to ADC and LCC campus administrators Katrina Lambrecht and Jeremy Brynes, respectively, with those initiatives.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in hospital finance administration?
I ended up in health care completely by accident. I had recently graduated with an accounting degree from UT Austin and was getting married within a few weeks. I was desperate to find an accounting role in any industry. A friend of my wife’s family knew the administrator at what was then Angleton Danbury General Hospital, and got me an introduction that led to my first role as a staff accountant. I figured that I would stay a year or two, get some experience and move on. That was over 34 years ago.

You’ve lived in Angleton for nearly two decades and serve on the Angleton ISD Board of Trustees. Can you talk about why you’ve gotten so involved in the local community?
Volunteering and giving back to the community are important both personally and professionally. I believe that we can sit back and complain about the way things are, or we can choose to get involved and make a difference. Volunteering ultimately makes our communities better places to live and work. Community involvement also is good for business. Health care is a complex business that is often difficult to navigate, and our pricing mechanisms typically make no sense to consumers. Community involvement can be a means of establishing relationships with many consumers and gives people a familiar name and face when questions or concerns about the local hospital arise. In addition to the AISD Board of Trustees, I also serve on the board of the local volunteer ambulance corps, the Rotary club and the planning and zoning commission, and I am part of the leadership team at my church.

Garwood and his wife with their grandchild, Claire. What is your proudest accomplishment?
Professionally, it would have to be the opportunity to serve on the team that transitioned the Angleton Danbury Medical Center to UTMB. The transition will ensure that the residents of Angleton, Danbury and the surrounding communities will continue to enjoy high-quality health care close to home for many years to come.

Personally, I am most proud of raising two daughters and shaping them into the adults they are today. Our oldest daughter recently began a role as a family nurse practitioner in Oregon after graduating from UTMB’s FNP program. Our youngest daughter works in the human resources department of a major retail business. She and her husband, along with our new grandchild, live in the Friendswood area.

What’s the best advice anyone’s ever given you?
Many people and life experiences have shaped me into the person I am today. Several years ago, I began to write down and list various lessons and pieces of advice in an effort to mentor those who reported to me. Probably the two entries that stand out above all the others are: Always be honest and treat everyone with respect and dignity.

Where are you most likely to be found outside of work?
After my children left for college, I took up motorcycle riding. I try to ride every weekend with my wife, Charlotte. We have had the opportunity to ride gorgeous roads in Colorado, New Mexico, Arkansas, West Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. Some of my favorite roads can be found right here in Texas in an area west of San Antonio known as “The Three Sisters.” I also really enjoy sailing. Years of sailing on the water evolved into land sailing about 10 years ago. We sail small, three-wheeled carts on the dry lake beds south of Las Vegas once or twice per year. Speeds on these carts can approach 60 miles per hour under the right conditions. While on these trips, we also enjoy hiking in the surrounding mountains. Finally, with the recent birth of our first grandchild, we often can be found on the weekends spending time with this very special addition to our family.

What’s your favorite band or musical group?
Pink Floyd!

Do you have any hidden talents?
Something that is not a gift—because I really have to work at it—is name recognition. I believe that being able to recall names is one form of demonstrating respect to our employees. As I meet new employees, I make a concerted effort to remember their names and challenge them to ask me if I remember their name when we next meet. I find that this practice allows employees to challenge me in a lighthearted manner and can serve as an “ice-breaker” the next time our paths cross.