Serving Humanity by Ensuring the Uninsured Receive Quality Health Care
By Rudy Arispe
Photography by Nina A. Padilla
Jaime Wesolowski was shaving one day when his razor glided over a big lump in his throat. He knew it wasn’t normal. So he canceled his meetings that day in 2006 and made an appointment to see his doctor. A biopsy revealed he had stage 4 cancer of the throat.
“It’s such a shock when you hear those three words,” Wesolowski said. “I was in good shape, exercised and ate well. I had an 11-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son at the time, so I knew I had to beat this to be there for them as they grew up.”
For several months, Wesolowski couldn’t work while he recuperated following treatment. He was CEO of a large hospital in Southern California at the time. He recalled praying to survive and, if it’s God’s will, that the Lord Jesus Christ guide him on a path to do greater good for humankind. Shortly before he was to return to work, Wesolowski learned about a job opening as CEO of the Methodist Healthcare System, a faith-based hospital healthcare system. He applied and was chosen to start in 2007.
In late 2018, Wesolowski became president and CEO of Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas Inc., where he continues to fulfill his promise to God that he would help others in need – and the need is great, he said, where in San Antonio and South Texas about 20 percent of the population is uninsured, double the national average. Many seek direct and a variety of social services from Methodist Healthcare Ministries.
Why did you choose a career in health care?
It goes back to when I was a boy. My older brother has dystonia, and he had to have several surgeries. We spent a lot of time at the hospital, and hospitals fascinated me. So I knew I wanted to do something in health care and aspired to be a nurse. During my nursing program, I met a fellow student who was studying hospital administration. He told me what it was about, and it fascinated me even more. I changed my major the next day.
You were a nursing assistant during college. What did that teach you?
The biggest thing I learned is just how hard nurses, nursing assistants, and health care providers work. I took that understanding with me through my hospital administration career. It serves me well today, and I feel it is my duty and the duty of our team to serve health care workers. They are true heroes, and it’s being seen during the pandemic.
How do you exemplify Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ mission of “serving humanity to honor God” at work and in your personal life?
I believe we did not land in these roles at Methodist Healthcare Ministries by accident. I believe God has a plan for us. He’s given us an amazing responsibility, so it’s imperative to provide to the least served in the best way we can to honor God. We can always look for ways to serve them better. Personally, I’m blessed to have a wife who shares my belief in our Lord Jesus Christ. At Methodist Healthcare Ministries, everyone is encouraged to live out their faith. Spirituality is one of our five core values.
Talk about the need for quality health care services for those who don’t have insurance.
Basic health care should not be a privilege for some but a right for everyone. That’s how we feel at Methodist Healthcare Ministries. Uninsured people often receive no health care and end up in the ER when it’s too late. We try to see as many of these individuals as possible. What most people don’t know about Methodist Healthcare Ministries is we are half owners of Methodist Healthcare System. We have 250 specialists from the Methodist Healthcare System who have agreed to take our patients when they require a higher level of care.
What is your involvement with the American Cancer Society?
I work a lot for the American Cancer Society. I was the first chair for the area board of the American Cancer Society of South Texas. I’m now on the national council for health equity. It is a gift from God to help me make a difference.