Having been in health care administration for more than 40 years, Robert “Bob” Trautman thought he would retire after the seven years he spent leading Saline Health System in Benton, Arkansas — and he did.
“I retired for three months and completed my bucket list with the exception of becoming a rock star, but what I realized was that was never going to happen,” Trautman said wryly. “So I decided I wanted to go back to work.”
He spent the past couple of years doing interim jobs in Dallas, Southern California — which is where he spent the bulk of his career in hospital administration — and most recently in Fort Wayne, Indiana, he said.
Throughout that time, though, Trautman was looking for the “right and perfect” permanent role.
“And this is it,” he said, gesturing to the St. Luke’s Health Brazosport office space around him. “I’m so happy to be here.”
Trautman took over as president and CEO of the St. Luke’s Health Brazosport system Aug. 9.
It’s been a pleasure having him on board, said Natasha Hyde, interim chief nursing officer for the hospital.
Right away, he went to work getting to know the staff, and “he knows everybody,” she said.
“Bob is here every morning at 6:30 … he’s here every morning and in the evening,” Hyde said. “If he doesn’t have a meeting, he’s not in the office — he’s out walking the hospital and making the rounds.”
He’s been fortunate to step into the atmosphere he has, Trautman said.
“This is the most amazing place I’ve ever been,” he said. “The welcome here and the camaraderie and teamwork among the staff, particularly in this trying time with the COVID going on — I came in last Saturday and the entire cancer center crew was over here at the hospital helping out.
“I can’t sing enough praises about our staff and the amount of work and caring they’ve exhibited during this process,” he said.
Recruitment and retention to supplement that staff as the hospital grows — particularly in the areas of primary and specialty care — will be a priority for Trautman as the hospital moves forward, he said.
Trautman brought with him a degree in health education from the University of Central Arkansas — where he actually started with a different degree path, he said.
“I started out as a physical education major in college because I played football in college,” he said. “I played for two years and I realized I wanted to coach, so I realized I didn’t want to do that because the coach at the college I was at because we were so bad got fired — just a coincidence I happened to be there, mind you. I switched my degree to health education.”
His first exposure to hospital administration came in graduate school, and he holds a master’s degree in hospital administration from California State University at Northridge.
“I found being a hospital CEO’s a lot like being a football coach,” Trautman said. “Some of the same skill sets — you have to pick a good team, you have to motivate, you have to teach. Sometimes you have to discipline, so a lot of parallels — and of course, it can be very competitive also. I thoroughly enjoy it and that’s probably why retirement didn’t suit me too well.”
He’s also a newlywed, he said, having married in November.
“We met in Southern California when I was there,” he said. “I do have four children from a prior marriage; two of them are in Southern California, one in Oregon and one just moved to Minnesota with her fiancé, so they’re all over now.”
He and his wife have not yet moved to Lake Jackson, but they purchased a house and plan to move in next month, he said.
Then, he hopes to become very active in the local community.
“I think we’re here for a reason,” Trautman said. “We’re here to serve our communities and provide resources to the extent of our ability to provide for our community. I think that’s our primary mission as a health care provider, and become part of the community — intertwine our resources with those already available.”