Leading a Leader in Health Care

The new CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial and Shoreline vice president and chief operating officer has deep ties to the Coastal Bend community.
By: Steven Alford
Photos by: Steven Alford

When Xavier Villarreal’s mother delivered him more than 40 years ago in Corpus Christi at what was then called Memorial Medical Center, she had no way of knowing he would one day run that very hospital.

Villarreal is the new vice president and chief operating officer at both CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial and CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Shoreline, returning to his hometown to oversee operations where he interned as a young man.

The 1991 Mary Carroll High School graduate says he is excited to be back near his family and working for an organization where he first learned about service and health care. “Growing up in Corpus, I was very familiar with Spohn; it’s always been a leader in health care,” Villarreal says. “In the back of mind, I always thought the chance to work there would be an incredible opportunity if it ever presented itself.”

After high school, Villarreal initially studied accounting. After returning home to work at a Boy Scout camp for the summer, Villarreal met the then CEO of Memorial Medical Center, David Lopez, who encouraged him to intern at the hospital and learn more about careers in health care. Villarreal spent two months learning everything he could about hospital operations – witnessing surgeries, staying up late for night shifts with managers and studying the staff’s intricate job duties throughout the building.

It opened his eyes to a new career, and he returned to Texas A&M University in College Station with a new career path in mind. “That’s really what sold me on going into health care administration,” he says. “That changed my long-term goals.”

Villarreal went on to earn a master’s degree in health care administration from Trinity University in San Antonio, and he worked at various hospitals in the South, including time in Oklahoma, Abilene and Corsicana.

Then, just a few months ago, Villarreal learned that CHRISTUS Spohn Health System was seeking an administrator in Corpus Christi at the hospital where his career trajectory was first inspired. Villarreal has taken the helm of CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial and Shoreline during an exciting time of transition for the two facilities.

It was recently announced that CHRISTUS Spohn Health System has outlined a plan to transform health care for South Texans. A major component of this transformation is the proposed plan to create an ultra-modern family health center on the Memorial campus focused on providing chronic disease management, wellness and prevention in support of the west side community.

The CHRISTUS Spohn Shoreline campus will be transformed into the region’s premier hospital housing the region’s only Level II trauma program, family practice and emergency medicine residency programs and advanced acute care services.

This proposal to bring state-of-the-art, personalized medicine to South Texas is a $325 million investment for which no taxpayer dollars are needed. CHRISTUS Spohn has committed $275 million of financial support – the company’s largest investment in the region ever. The remaining $50 million will be raised through philanthropic support.

Villarreal is excited about the opportunity to be part of ensuring the best health care is provided for generations to come. “Being born in Memorial, having worked there, that’s really where my dream of health care began,” he says. “I understand the history of what that location means. The potential models we are looking at for the two hospitals will really transform health care in the region.”

And it’s not just the buildings that are changing; the health care industry as a whole is in a state of transition and improvement, according to Villarreal. The industry looks not only to provide care inside the four walls of hospitals, but also to provide preventative care in family health clinics and even at patients’ homes.

“We’re seeing a lot of changes to the traditional model of the past, where hospitals were just waiting for patients to get sick and treating them there,” Villarreal says. “We really need to cater to our patients’ needs before they get sick and look at how we can best do that.”

But for now, Villarreal is adjusting to his new position and getting his family settled in in Corpus Christi. He and his wife, Tiffany, a labor and delivery nurse, are set to celebrate their 10-year anniversary and are expecting their third child (a boy) in October. They also have an 8-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter.

In his spare time, Villarreal enjoys taking wine-tasting trips to Napa Valley and the Texas Hill Country with friends, and he is very active in Boy Scouts, having earned the rank of Eagle Scout in high school. He enjoys camping trips and sporting events with his son, who is now a Cub Scout.

Villarreal says he feels blessed to be working in his new role with CHRISTUS Spohn in his hometown, serving the people of the community where he grew up not too long ago. He has deep ties to the community; his mother was a nurse at Memorial Medical Center and a school nurse for CCISD, while his father worked for years as an electrical engineer at the Corpus Christi Army Depot.

Having been raised Catholic in Corpus Christi, where he attended Most Precious Blood Catholic Church, Villarreal says it feels good to return home to work for a Catholic organization.

“I’m really looking forward to this opportunity,” he shares. “I’m excited to work alongside our medical staff and associates to continue to make improvements and provide high-quality care to our community.”

For additional information, visit www.christusspohn.org

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