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Conversation with Dr. Mark DeLeon and Jessica DeLeon

Dr. Mark DeLeon is board certified in medical oncology and hematology. He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force. While in the Air Force, Dr. DeLeon served as a staff physician and department chair in Hematology-Oncology at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio. He is currently serving as Chief of Staff at Hill Country Memorial. In 2000, Dr. DeLeon started working in Fredericksburg with Dr. Jose Lopez, and as a physician partner at HCM.

Jessica DeLeon has worked over 20 years in the non-profit health care industry. Most recently, she served at HCM as a Business Analyst. In 2011, the year Jessica started at HCM, she worked on the Business Development Team to expand the hospital’s outreach services. Later, she moved to HCM’s Marketing and Strategy departments to focus on analytics and business planning.

Q. What inspires you most about giving to HCM?

Mark:
My patients always inspire me to give to Hill Country Memorial. As an oncologist, I see people every day with life-threatening problems, and in some cases catastrophic problems, or unexpected illnesses. I am acutely aware of my patients’ reliance on the hospital for their local health care.

Jessica:
HCM offers high quality care close to home. We do not take that for granted. That is one of the many reasons why we contribute to Hill Country Memorial.

Mark:
We both have invested much of our professional lives at HCM; Jessica with her employment at the hospital, and me as a physician partner. When I first joined Dr. Lopez in 2000, I was immediately impressed by the level of service the hospital provided for the patients, and impressed by the physicians in the community.

When you are part of something, you want to continue to make it better.

Q. How do you make your philanthropic decisions?

Mark:
We make the decisions together through a lot of discussion and prayer. We do not donate spur of the moment. It’s all planned and carefully based on our budget and what we view as the greatest need in our community. Our philanthropy focuses primarily on three areas: Hill Country Memorial, St. Mary’s Church, and Ambleside where our boys attend school.

Jessica:
We give to the causes we are passionate about and we feel a responsibility to give back to our local community. We know that dependable donors are important for organizations. We donate on a monthly basis. We have built this giving into our monthly budget.

Mark:
We both feel that donating on a regular basis helps make more of an impact.

Q. As donors what does ‘making a difference’ for HCM patients look like for you?

Mark:
As I mentioned earlier, as an oncologist, I see patients every day that are critically ill and have life-changing diagnoses. The hospital through its purchase of innovative technology—the new MRI, as an example— has made a huge clinical impact on my patients—in the monitoring of their care, and treatment planning for radiation and surgery. The benefits of the imaging with the Breast Center’s 3D mammography has made a difference for my breast cancer patients and early diagnosis. Donations to HCM, large or small, give everyone the opportunity to do so much for the people in our community.

Jessica:
I appreciate the hospital staying at the forefront of the latest technology. I know people working at HCM, and I believe in them. We are so fortunate that we can feel confident about the providers, nurses, and staff who care for us and our families.

Q. What do you tell people when they ask you about Hill Country Memorial?

Mark:
I get referrals from many other places. The patients I see may not have been inside Hill Country Memorial—but most of my patients will eventually have an encounter at the hospital. I literally get asked the question every day, is HCM a good hospital? I tell patients with great confidence that we have an incredible community hospital with a high level of care. I also tell patients that in the 17 years since I arrived in Fredericksburg, the physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and radiologists have all been phenomenal clinicians.

The hospital’s leadership is committed to doing a really good job of focusing on what’s right for the community, not just what’s right for the business model or from a financial aspect.

Jessica:
I've heard Mark say often that he is so grateful to work in a small community environment in Fredericksburg, where he knows and trusts the hospitalists, specialists, and community providers, rather than a larger health system.

Q. After your patients become familiar with the hospital, what do they tell you about their experience at Hill Country Memorial?

Mark:
The feedback is always positive. Starting with the kindness they receive at the front desk, to the efficiency they feel in radiology, to the compassion they feel in the endoscopy suite. Really from the moment they walk in the door, until the moment they walk out, and every step in between, they tell me how well they were cared for—and this is what I want for my patients.

Q. What is the most important work that Hill Country Memorial does for our community?

Mark:
It is so important that the hospital continues its focus to be the best, safest, clinical service provider available in our communities.

It is important that we continue to review the work of the doctors and nurses through a process called peer review.

The hospital’s outreach services in Llano, Mason, Comfort, Marble Falls and Boerne are also important for our patients and neighbors.

Jessica:
The hospital is the largest employer in the area and that’s so important to the health of our community, and to our shared quality of life.

Additionally, the hospital and its ancillary services act as an anchor in the community. Without rural hospitals like Hill Country Memorial, Mark and the other specialists could not do what they need to do for their patients. Fredericksburg would not be able to support specialty care without these services. People would have to drive so far for what would then become very time intensive health care.

Mark and Jessica:
We are so grateful to have such high quality health care in Fredericksburg.