San Antonio/ Real Estate & Development
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Published on June 24, 2024
University Health CEO George Hernández Jr. To Retire After Spearheading Major Expansion in San AntonioSource: Google Street View

Amid a flourish of health care expansion in San Antonio, University Health President and CEO George Hernández Jr. prepares to step down from his role, mirroring his career's trajectory of growth and development within the county's public hospital system. In a recent interview with the San Antonio Report, Hernández reflected on his tenure which will culminate after leaving his office next week, a period marked by the opening of a new $574 million Women’s and Children’s Hospital in December and several other projects set to elevate the health infrastructure of the region.

Within days of the Women's and Children's Hospital beginning operations, Hernández announced his retirement plans, having spent his final year celebrating the commencement of construction on multiple clinics and hospitals. Scheduled for a 2026 opening, University Health Wheatley, attended by Hernández at its groundbreaking, stands as a multi-specialty facility in a dedicated effort to improve access to healthcare in what has historically been underserved areas. Echoing Hernández's focus on both care and compassion, University Health Vida, Palo Alto Hospital, and Retama Hospital are slated for inaugural services in 2025 and 2027 respectively. Eduardo Banos, currently serving as the executive vice president and chief operating officer, will assume the CEO mantle and take charge of the transformative projects in progress.

University Health, holding a portfolio of 24 locations and standing as UT Health San Antonio's primary teaching venue, operates a Level I trauma center catering to South Texas while also offering specializations like pediatric trauma care and comprehensive stroke treatment. Hernández, who worked his way up from the hospital's attorney to its CEO, has always prioritized enhancing facilities and cultivating an empathetic culture within the hospital system. The expansion blueprint includes not only the aforementioned institutes but also spaces like a new medical office building in development, purposeful in ensuring the main hospital remains focused on critical care.

Hernández's journey in the healthcare field began well before his ascent to University Health's leadership. After returning to San Antonio following his law education, he served in municipal legal positions eventually leading him to the healthcare sector. He has steadily climbed the ranks since his initial association with University Health in 1983. Despite a failed effort to forge a public-private partnership with Christus Santa Rosa, Hernández redirected focus to significant expansions such as the new downtown health center and the Sky Tower, fortifying the hospital's infrastructure. "The first things that I concentrated on were facilities and culture," Hernández told the San Antonio Report. "To be top tier, you had to have the right care."

With the challenges that lie ahead, Hernández remains optimistic about his successor and the future of University Health, albeit leaving Banos "with a lot of homework". University Health's 2023 financial statement reveals an investment of $286.7 million in capital assets and a notable increase in its net position by 16.1%. The operational success and expansion align with Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai's depiction of University Health as a "powerhouse of a public hospital system," honoring Hernández's service later this month with the Hidalgo Award for his substantial community contributions. Reflective of his accomplishments and intent on sharing his knowledge, Hernández plans to dedicate his retirement to writing a book about his career and cherishing time with his family.