McAllen hospital names first Latina CEO in its 104-year history

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Emma Montes-Ewing has been named the new CEO of South Texas Health System McAllen, its first Latina in the position in its 104-year history. She starts in January 2024. (Courtesy Photo)

Emma Montes-Ewing grew up in Peru where access to medical care was strictly controlled under a socialized healthcare system. Fast forward several decades, and now she finds herself in America at the head of a local hospital that she wants to help grow and expand its healthcare access to the masses.

Montes-Ewing will also be tackling that goal as a trailblazer.

She has been named the new CEO of South Texas Health System McAllen, the 104-year-old hospital’s first Latina to take the reins.

“I’m so proud of my heritage, I’m proud of being Latin, I’m proud of being a female in a profession that is underrepresented by females,” Montes-Ewing said with gusto.

Although she had various family members in the medical field she was motivated to study medicine after witnessing the limitations in healthcare.

“I always had an interest in serving people,” Emma said.

She recalled various moments where her grandfather didn’t have the necessary available medical care. She explained that those moments became a reminder of what it was like to live without access to health care.

Montes-Ewing would go on to attend college in the U.S. where she studied to be a licensed physical therapy assistant and received her associate’s degree. She would later specialize in wound care in which she helped treat wounds that had trouble healing due to other issues such as diabetes.

Throughout that time she and her team helped develop a wound care center where she was inspired to continue working towards improving quality of life.

She later returned to school to pursue a Master’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in hospital management. She recalled her mom motivating her to return to school to understand how hospital systems work.

South Texas Health System McAllen seen in McAllen on Wednesday, May 10, 2023. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

She learned about the intricacies that allowed hospital systems to provide the necessary resources and care.

Throughout her time in school, she participated in a training for hospital administration which became a stepping stone in her career.

Now as she prepares to take on the role of CEO for STHS McAllen she’ll be pulling from her expertise gained from those previous positions and experience to lead the McAllen hospital.

Montes-Ewing who currently works as CEO for the Doctor’s Hospital of Laredo will be stepping into her role at STHS beginning early next year in January.

She’s excited to take on the opportunities at STHS McAllen due to it being a larger hospital that included additional acuity and a level 1 trauma center.

“I was excited about the opportunity,” Montes-Ewing said. “I want to be part of that healthcare community that grows and I want to do my best to add to what is going on already.”

She looks forward to moving to the Rio Grande Valley not only for the opportunity to lead the hospital but also for the weather and culture, which she explained reminds her a bit of home.

It means more that she’ll represent Latin America in her service to a predominantly Hispanic community.

STHS McAllen first opened its doors downtown in 1919 and operated as McAllen Municipal Hospital, the McAllen General Hospital, McAllen Methodist Hospital and McAllen Medical Center. It moved to its current location in 1985.

After all that time, Montes-Ewing will be its first Latina CEO.

The emergency room at South Texas Health System McAllen on Wednesday, May 10, 2023. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Today, STHS McAllen boasts a level 1 trauma center, comprehensive stroke center and level III neonatal intensive care unit, and employs more than 1,100 people.

“I’m proud to go to an amazing place … and represent my gender and be that example that can inspire others,” Montes-Ewing said.

As the new CEO, Montes-Ewing hopes to promote more communication and collaboration between the hospital staff in order to provide better healthcare services to the community.

“My goal would be to just enhance all the great things that are going on there, to create a culture … that attracts new people, new staff and redefines what healthcare is after COVID,” Montes-Ewing said, adding that now is the time to attract the newer workforce.