Gary Honts has spearheaded a number of healthcare advances during his decade-long tenure at JFK Memorial Hospital, including a new Primary Stroke Center, robotic procedures courtesy of The Da Vinci Surgical System, and Riverside County’s first Level IV trauma program. “These services didn’t exist in the East Valley,” says the 42-year veteran of Tenet Healthcare Corporation. “Minutes matter in life-threatening medical situations.
The immense progress in clinical care is a direct result of JFK’s inclusion in Desert Care Network (DCN), the umbrella covering JFK Memorial Hospital (JFK) in Indio, Desert Regional Medical Center (DRMC) in Palm Springs, and Hi-Desert Medical Center (HDMC) in Joshua Tree. “Previously, JFK operated as a standalone hospital,” continues Honts. “The formation of DCN brings additional strong clinical support from DRMC’s Level II trauma program, their NICU, their oncology programs, their neurology programs. When we have someone at JFK who needs a much higher level of service, it’s one phone call and they’re transferred right away.”
This affiliation is especially crucial for a hospital serving such a diverse population — mainly Latino, from young undocumented families to the elderly, living all the way to the Mexican and Arizona borders. “A recent survey found our hospital was No. 1 in the State of California for serving diverse communities,” says Honts, adding that this rainbow of humanity presents exciting opportunities for his medical professionals. “We have everything from the field worker and all the challenges they have, such as accidents to major traumas. We have snowbirds with their health care needs, including cardiology and orthopedics. Then we have young families and the pediatric population. We’re not just a small community hospital. We treat everybody and we see everything.”
To relieve the extreme stress of running a major medical institution, Honts says that he spends time on the links. “I’m an avid golfer, and what better place to golf than in the Coachella Valley? My wife and I both love it.”
Still, work can bleed into his game, pun entirely intended. “I meet a lot of individuals,” continues Honts, referring to his hours spent on the course. “Sometimes they’re snowbirds, sometimes they’re residents who’ve been here a long time. It’s not surprising that we have a great orthopedic program at JFK. Some of those patients need hip replacements and ask, ‘How do I get into your hospital?’ It’s not always about golf. Sometimes it’s about business.”
Honts maintains JFK remains perfectly poised to meet East Valley growth head-on, from the expansion of its ER to comfort upgrades in patient rooms and corridors. “Stay tuned,” he concludes. “JFK’s just starting.”
VIDEO: Gary Honts speaks of the advances that have been made at the hospital over the past decade.