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Outspoken JPS critic joins hospital district's board

FORT WORTH -- Dr. Chuck Webber spent more than three decades teaching young physicians and caring for some of Tarrant County’s poorest of patients as a trauma surgeon at the Tarrant County Hospital District.

Just a few months after retiring, Webber is being named to the 11-member board of managers that oversees the taxpayer-supported district.

Webber is known as both a fervent supporter and one of the most outspoken critics of the hospital district, which does business as the JPS Health Network.

“Dr. Webber is one of the most dedicated people to the mission of JPS; he spent his entire career there,” JPS Board Chairman Steve Montgomery said. “He still wants to make the institution better. If you are willing to criticize something that you spent your entire life building, I would think that is a higher level of commitment than most people have.”

Shortly before retiring in May, Webber openly criticized the JPS administration for not providing adequate resources to the medical staff, failing to maintain quality and for losing focus on its mission of caring for the poor.

The JPS board responded by forcing out Chief Executive David Cecero, firing the company responsible for keeping JPS clinics and hospitals clean and restructuring next year’s budget to add additional staff to areas such as JPS’s outpatient clinics.

Webber takes the board seat previously held by Dr. Wayne Williams, who was also a harsh critic of the former administration. Williams died in July after a long bout with prostate cancer.

“Wayne and I saw eye to eye on many things and I look forward to carrying on what he started,” Webber said referring to Williams’ push to shake up the JPS leadership. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Webber said as a board member he hopes to bring his 33 years of experience in the trenches of JPS. He said he will focus on quality of care and ensuring adequate hospital staffing levels, which he had been critical of before his retirement.

“I believe the place is on the right track and what I can bring is a perspective to the board or show other board things that they have never seen before or never heard before,” Webber said.

Tarrant County Commissioners J.D. Johnson recommended Webber as his appointment to the JPS board; commissioners unanimously approved Webber on Tuesday.

“I think he will be a great appointment,” Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said.

Montgomery will have to find a replacement for Webber on the search committee for a new JPS chief executive.

“He will still get a say in who the next CEO is as part of the board,” Montgomery said. “What excites me is that Chuck is joining the board purely for the betterment of the institution because I think he believes in giving back.”