Victor Garcia is the vice president of emergency services at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. He has been serving in the position since December, having relocated from Indiana. (Staff Photo: Jennifer Parks)
ALBANY — A new addition to Albany, Victor Garcia serves as the vice president of emergency services for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. With more than a decade of experience in emergency services under his belt, he saw an opportunity and came to Southwest Georgia.
Having been on the job for more than three months now, the father of four came to the Albany area from Methodist Hospitals in Gary and Merrillville, Ind., where he was the director for critical care services. Before that, he was the director of critical care at Methodist Hospital of Sacramento, Calif. He previously held the same position at Mercy Gilbert in Gilbert, Ariz., and at Phoenix Memorial in Phoenix, Ariz.
In a recent sit-down with Herald writer Jennifer Parks, he talks of his love of motorcycles, his desire to be able to meet John F. Kennedy and the impact the recent recession and the Affordable Care Act has had on the health care field.
Q. What was your very first job?
A. A neighbor, one of my best friends, his mother managed a jewelry store, so I guess I was a jewelry person. I was maybe 14.
Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first paycheck?
A. I couldn’t tell you. I probably bought McDonald’s. I remember deciding whether to frame it, but I wouldn’t be able to use the money.
• NAME: Victor Garcia
• AGE: 46
• POSITION: Vice president of emergency services at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital
• ON THE JOB SINCE: December 2013
• FAMILY: Wife, Rebecca, and three sons (ages 7, 6 and 4) and a 3-year-old daughter
• EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in nursing from Indiana University in Gary, Ind., and an MBA from the University of Phoenix in Phoenix, Ariz.
• INTERESTING FACT: Likes to ride motorcycles
Q.What’s the single most effective technique you’ve found for keeping employees motivated?
A. Try to show them how exciting it is what we do. In health care, it’s amazing just the connection we get from patients. They don’t demand anything; they just want us to help. I take that and how I feel about that (and apply it to my employees). We take that seriously … but we try to have fun.
Q. What led you to your current position?
A. It was a natural progression. I’ve been in the emergency field for more than 15 years. It’s amazing the passion involved.
Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?
A. I’ve had several over the years, but I guess nobody famous. There was a COO when I was in Arizona. He listened to me, and I try to model myself after him.
Q. What is the biggest lesson you have learned from the recent recession?
A. I’ve worked with for profit and non-profit. For profit, from the beginning, has been in tune with costs. That kind of thing helped me (put things into perspective). You have to have a keen sense of costs versus benefits, and staying on top of new ways to provide care.
With the Affordable Care Act (it has been said this) is a tough time to be in the field. It is an exciting time for the patient … the patient has more of a say in their care.
Q. If you could turn back the clock on one aspect of technology — email, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs — what would it be?
A. One thing I’m critical on is phones. Today’s health care is so complex that demands on (staff) are getting more and more … Being connected seems to be the standard now. It’s common now to see a health care worker with a phone attached to them. What I’m sensitive to is the attachment to the phone. I know you couldn’t take it away, but it’s the phone usage.
Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?
A. My smartphone. It has become the hub of information for anyone and everyone. Consumers use it for their time piece, camera, keeping in touch with family and friends, keeping in touch with news events, looking up their medical record, submitting health data to their primary care physician … the possibilities are truly endless. It is one piece of technology that I would be lost without.
Q. What is your favorite tradition?
A. My wife and myself — our favorite tradition is really Thanksgiving. She loves to cook and bake, and have the whole spread and have the family over.
Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?
A. I’m odd in the sense I don’t read anything that doesn’t give me value. I read more journals than books. The last book I read was “Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell.
Q. What is your morning routine?
A. I get up, wake the boys up and get them into the shower. My oldest is seven, and I work so much that this is a way to stay connected to my kids. I get coffee, read the news and come into work.
Q. What famous person would you like to meet and why?
A. John F. Kennedy. My parents had a record of John F. Kennedy’s speeches. Over the years, I have associated leadership with John F. Kennedy, so I would like to meet him.
As I progress in my leadership journey, I see he was a regular guy trying to do his best.
Q. Favorite hobbies or activities outside of work?
A. Spending time with my family. We don’t do anything special, but just (enjoy) hanging out.
Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?
A. I don’t think like that. I’ve tried wherever I’m at to make things better. For me, the more mistakes I make, the better I can do later on.
Q. Best and worst things about your job?
A. The best part is coming to work. The level of talent here is amazing to me, and the overwhelming willingness to work together. The best part of my job is coming here. I couldn’t give you a worst. There is no downside to me. I like what I do.
Q. What was the most beneficial course you took in school?
A. Economics. Economics is an interesting way to give you a perspective on just about everything. Opportunity lost and opportunity cost.
Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?
A. A lead guitarist in a blues band.
Q. Where do you see yourself on the first anniversary of your retirement?
A. I probably would be living in a high rise condo in the big city. I’d enjoy it, read a book … be very simple about things. Maybe I’ll be visiting grandkids by that time.
Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?
A. You’ve got to love people. In health care, it is all about people.
Q. What kind of music do you most like listening to?
A. I have a big range in music. When I want to focus, usually classical. My emotions are tied into the music; I might (be in the mood to) listen to Nine Inch Nails. I grew up on classical rock … (music) invokes a lot of emotion. The one thing I do love is the streaming music — Pandora. It is the ultimate remote control.
Q. What was the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
A. When I was in Arizona, we had a cabin up north in the Sedona area. It was quiet, and I just enjoyed it.
Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?
A. I think there is a tremendous amount of focus on the level of care. (In the past) the whole mindset with the emergency department was, if you are not dying, you shouldn’t be there. The focus now is getting the patient transitioned to the next level and getting them to a quicker and safer level of care. With the Affordable Care Act, there is safer and quicker care, but we are doing that with a more financially mindful method in mind.