PHOTOS — CHRISTUS Southeast Texas welcomes new directors; celebrates retirements of longtime leaders

Published 11:00 am Monday, May 24, 2021

BEAUMONT — CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System recently welcomed several new leaders in various departments in its ministry.

At the same time, CHRISTUS is honoring the careers of a pair of longtime directors and a well-known physician who are recently retired after a combined 103 years of service to Southeast Texas.

Britni Hidalgo, RN, MSN, serves as the new clinical director of labor and delivery.

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She previously worked for CHRISTUS as a PRN associate in the labor and delivery unit starting in May 2019. During that time, she was instrumental in the maternal quality program as St. Elizabeth went through the maternal designation process.

After earning her Master of Science in Nursing Administration from Lamar University in May 2020, Hidalgo worked at the Medical Center of SETX as maternal program manager.

Carmen “Zoe” Rosa has joined CHRISTUS as the laboratory manager.

She had served as laboratory manger II for AdventHealth Orlando with 14 years of lab management experience, overseeing multiple teams across 11 hospitals.

Rosa served as a champion for quality and efficiency improvements throughout that health system, significantly improving department revenue growth while also increasing workflows and productivity.

Keith Irons is now the regional director of environmental care and safety.

His regional position serves the CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System and CHRISTUS Ochsner Southwestern Louisiana based in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Irons is a 34-year retired veteran from the U.S. Army. He began his career in the military as a private E1 and advanced through the ranks to retire as a lieutenant colonel.

Irons later retired at Fort Polk, Louisiana as the senior safety officer for Combat Hospitals.

After serving as a manager and supervisor in our pharmacy since 2012, Santosh Kalathra now serves as pharmacy director of CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System. Overall, Kalathra has contributed to the ministry for nearly 16 years.

He is a trusted expert among staff and physicians and has shown an unwavering commitment to patient care. Kalathra takes over this role following the retirement of Tommy Welch.

Welch retired as pharmacy director after 26 years of service to CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth. He initially planned to retire in the fall of 2020.

However, he extended his stay to serve and protect the community against the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of natural disasters.

CHRISTUS Southeast Texas wishes Welch all the best in his retirement as he plans to spend more time with his wife of 43 years, his two children and his grandchild.

Another recent retiree is Shelly Cooper, who served as the respiratory director for CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System. She also delayed her retirement for several months to help lead her team during the pandemic.

This is just one example of why Cooper was a powerful leader in the ministry for more than 35 years. Her dedication and outstanding service to CHRISTUS are hallmarks of Cooper’s legacy within the ministry.

CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System also said a bittersweet farewell to Robert Birdwell, MD, Oncologist.

He recently started his well-earned retirement after 42 years of dedicated service to the community. In the early years of his career, Birdwell helped in the development and fundraising for the Mamie McFaddin Ward Cancer Center, which is now the home of Texas Oncology.

He also served in various leadership roles including chairperson of the Cancer Committee and co-director of the Breast Cancer Navigation Program.