HARLINGEN, Texas – With over 36 years of experience in healthcare management, Rio Grande Regional Hospital CEO Cris Rivera is retiring on March 31.

Rivera was the first female Hispanic executive to assume the position of chief executive officer of the hospital.

One of Rivera’s last public engagements was to sign an agreement between Rio Grande Regional’s parent company, HCA, and UT-Rio Grande Valley to bring 30 resident physicians to Brownsville and McAllen by summer 2024, with plans to seat 150 total resident physician positions by 2029.

Residents from the UTRGV School of Medicine will train at HCA Healthcare Gulf Coast Division affiliate hospitals Rio Grande Regional Hospital in McAllen and Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville.

The UTRGV-HCA announcement was held at the UTRGV Clinical Education Building on Treasure Hills Boulevard in Harlingen. The agreement to work together was signed by UTRGV President Guy Bailey, Dr. Michael Hocker, dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine, David Irizarry, CEO of Valley Regional Medical Center, and Rivera.

Here are the remarks Rivera made at the event:

“Thank you very much Dean Hocker. Thank you for the kind words and constant support. I appreciate it. 

“I would like to make a statement: Above all else, we are committed to the care and improvement of human life. That is the mission of Rio Grande Regional Hospital and Valley Regional Medical Center and we are so excited today to be able to partner with UTRGV as they will help us be able to continue providing that leadership, that mission, to improve human life. The improvement of the human life of those residents that will be coming through this program. And therefore, those residents will be improving the human life of the people of the entire Rio Grande Valley. And I think all of us in this room are in support of being able to improve the lives of the people of the Rio Grande Valley. That’s what we’re here for. 

“This partnership is, as mentioned… the discussion started several years ago, and now I am honored and privileged to be able to be here to sign the agreement that will kick start the opportunity to have residents rotate through HCA affiliated hospitals. It was mentioned that we will be using evidence-based medicine. That’s the way of HCA. We use evidence-based medicine to care for our patients, their loved ones, this entire community of the Rio Grande Valley, not just McAllen or Brownsville, the entire Rio Grande Valley. 

“And now, coupled with the evidence-based medicine that UTRGV brings to the table, the resources that these two very large organizations, HCA and UT, bring to the table is going phenomenal, it’s going to be transformative. It is going to be something that we’ve all been waiting for and have been needing in this area for many, many years. And it is a dream come true. And, yes, I have spent 45 years providing health care services for various markets. But my most favorite is here in the Rio Grande Valley. 

“And I am going to be retiring March 31. It has been an honor to be able to serve for this long and it is an honor to be able to now sign this agreement that will catapult us forward in the continued education for the people to the Rio Grande Valley, especially the medical education here. and April 1 my successor will take over. That’s no April Fool’s joke. She is here, Laura Disque. She will be our chief executive officer. I know that she will be able to carry the baton forward and complete the race to be able to win in this arena of medical education. 

“And I’m honored, again. I want to mention that the opportunity that we have here before us is going to be one in a million. Those individuals that have made this happen, I would be remiss if I did not mention their names very quickly. David Irizarry, the CEO of Valley Regional Medical Center, has been instrumental in getting us to this point. From a Rio Grande Regional Hospital perspective, our Chief of Staff, Dr. Ed Requenez; our Chairwoman of the Board Rio Grande Regional Hospital, Irma Garza is here. Thank you very much. We also have our executive team that is present, that worked tirelessly to be able to get us to this point. So, I want to thank all of you, to thank this community because we are a very cohesive family that needs to continue working together for the betterment of people the Rio Grande Valley. So thank you very much. I appreciate all of you and thank you for giving me this opportunity to share a message that is going to be able to clearly communicate our commitment to this program. So, thank you Dr. Bailey, thank you very much. I appreciate it.”

About Cris Rivera

Cris Rivera, an Edinburg, Texas native, was welcomed in November of 2012, as the first female Hispanic executive to assume the position of Chief Executive Officer of Rio Grande Regional Hospital.

With over 36 years of healthcare management experience, Mrs. Rivera has held various leadership and executive roles throughout her career with HCA-Hospital Corporation of America. Prior to Mrs. Rivera’s return to the Valley, she served as CEO in both Louisiana and Kansas. She is a skillful healthcare executive with a proven track record of working collaboratively with her staff and physicians to ensure they provide the best care possible to the patients and community we so proudly serve.

In addition to her executive duties, Mrs. Rivera is also a dedicated community partner, who serves on the board of numerous community organizations and takes great pride in helping charitable organizations. In 2016, both the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce and the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recognized Mrs. Rivera as a Women of Distinction. She has served as president of the McAllen Education Foundation; was a member of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce Innovation Grant Awards Program, and she is the Chairwoman of the Texas Workforce Solutions. In addition, Mrs. Rivera is also an active member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, the Rio Grande Valley Local Program Council, and the McAllen South Rotary.

Mrs. Rivera earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Incarnate Word College and her Master of Business Administration and Healthcare Management from Our Lady of the Lake University, both in San Antonio. She and her husband David have two adult children, Cynthia Deanne, David Christian, their daughter-in-law Erica Lynn, grandson, Leo and granddaughter, Eli.

About HCA Gulf Coast Division

HCA Gulf Coast Division is a comprehensive network of hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, emergency centers, cancer centers, and diagnostic imaging facilities. It offers a complete continuum of specialized health programs and services that meet the needs of Greater Houston and South Texas residents and businesses. HCA runs 16 acute care and specialty hospitals, freestanding emergency rooms, ambulatory surgery centers. It has more than 16,000 employees. For more information, go to www.HCAGulfCoast.com.

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