“Have an appetite for curiosity! Never stop asking questions and wondering why things are the way things are or how we come to decisions.”
That advice comes from Monica Vargas-Mahar '98 FACHE and it has served her well. “The start of my career was profoundly impacted in a positive way because my mentors and colleagues encouraged my curiosity,” she says. She also advises early careerists not to get frustrated when tasked with small jobs. “Keep in mind, there is a reason someone asked you to do it.”
Monica began her career at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas (PHD) where Trinity alumnus and current Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Trinity University Doug Hawthorne B.S. '69, M.S.-HCAD '72 was her preceptor. She went onto serve as Director of Women’s Specialty and Psychiatric Services at PHD before joining the Sierra Providence Health Network family—now The Hospitals of Providence—in her hometown of El Paso, Texas.
In El Paso, Monica moved up quickly. She served as Vice President of Ancillary Services at Sierra Medical Center and oversaw ancillary services at Providence Memorial Hospital. In 2008, Monica became COO for Sierra Providence East Medical Center, the network’s newest acute care facility. She served as cornerstone of the development of East and served as the hospital’s on-site administrator during construction, then oversaw the expansion of SPEMC’s emergency room, Orthopedic Center and the development of the Wound Care Center. “This was a green field project,” she says, “and to be part of the project from land acquisition to opening was incredibly fulfilling.” The two-year long project is now a successful facility bringing access to an underserved community and it remains her proudest accomplishment thus far. Moving to Providence Memorial Hospital as COO from 2011 to 2014, Monica assumed responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the hospital, which also included the Providence Children’s Hospital.
Currently, Monica is CEO at The Hospitals of Providence - Sierra Campus, a 323-bed acute care hospital that opened in February 1976 and specializes in cardiac, neurological and orthopedics, as well as rehabilitation services. In this role, which she has held for a little over a year, Monica provides strategic and operational leadership for Sierra and its numerous outpatient locations to ensure exceptional care to each patient.
A graduate of Leadership El Paso and Leadership Texas, Monica says she developed her style of leadership early in her career. “I learned that the best compass to guide any decision or challenge is the golden rule. I apply that to my interactions with physicians, patients or employees, no matter how difficult the situation may be.”
Active in professional organizations, Monica serves on the board of the National Forum for Latino Healthcare Executives, is a member of the National Association of Female Executives and the Foundation for Women’s Resources, where she has served as Regional Director. In 2012, Modern Healthcare Magazine named her to its list of “Up and Comers.”
Throughout her career, Monica has benefited greatly from the Trinity alumni network. “Just to show how powerful our network is,” she says, “the call to return to El Paso was passed onto me by a fellow alumnus who knew I wanted to head back home.”
When not at work, Monica enjoys spending time with her husband, two wonderful stepsons and their four beautiful dogs. “They keep us plenty busy,” she reports. “When not chasing doggies or spending time with my boys, a good fiction read keeps me company.”
Service to others is what keeps her motivated. “Knowing that as a team our caregivers can improve lives of those we are fortunate to care for brings me great pride and fulfillment. There is no greater calling than serving others.”