Meet Our Leaders

Leo Garza, Chief Executive Officer

Leo takes pride in making sure his hospital’s patients receive top-quality care and works hard to build a world-class team of staff who share the same delight.

With 13 years of healthcare experience behind him, Leo brings both clinical and administrative experience to his ability to oversee the operations, nursing care, and patient satisfaction of the hospital. A licensed occupational therapist, Leo has long taken a special interest in treating patients with neurological conditions and has extensive training in stroke rehabilitation.

Leo earned a bachelor’s degree in healthcare science and a master’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas. Leo is a graduate of Leadership Brownsville class 30, and is an active member of the Rotary Club of Historic Brownsville.

He enjoys hunting, fishing, golf, basketball, but most of all spending time with his wife and two daughters.

Dr. Jumar Apolinario, Outpatient Medical Director

Dr. Apolinario exudes passion for helping patients reach their fullest abilities. He specializes in the treatment of acute and chronic pain syndromes, musculoskeletal disorders, stroke, brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries.

A board-certified physiatrist, Dr. Apolinario has more than 12 years of experience in the healing profession. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from West Visayas State University and a doctor of medicine degree (obtaining Dean’s List) at the College of Medicine at West Visayas State University, Iloilo City, Philippines.

Dr. Apolinario serves as a member of the International Spinal Injection Society and of the American Academy of Pain Management.

Rita Mata-Guerrero, Market Chief Nursing Officer

Rita’s passion for nursing and exceptional patient care has been instrumental in the hospital’s excellent nursing outcomes. As a nurse for 24 years, Rita has plenty of hands-on experience serving patients and their families in rehabilitative care, management, and obstetrics.

Rita has had great opportunities to advance in her career and help build a strong nursing team – one that she is proud to be a part of. She states, “I love having the ability to apply best practices in nursing and educating my staff so that they can provide quality care to the patients served.

Rita earned an associate’s degree in nursing from the University of Texas at Brownsville and a bachelor of science in nursing and a master of science in nursing with a concentration in nursing administration from The University of Texas at Arlington. She is a certified rehabilitation registered nurse and a  member of the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses. She is also a member of the Nursing Advisory Committee for the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley, Texas Southmost College, and Texas State Technical College.

Rita loves to spend time with her family, as her twin boys fulfill her life beyond words.

Art Gutierrez, Director of Plant Operations

Art brings more than 20 years of experience to his work in overseeing the hospital’s everyday maintenance to ensure the safety of the hospital’s physical building.

Art earned an associate’s degree in applied science at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen, Texas, and then proceeded to earn another associate’s degree in respiratory therapy at Independence University online.

Art is married and enjoys fishing.

Antonio Rodriguez, Director of Human Resources

Antonio brings more than ten years of experience to his role in human resources, helping to maintain and enhance our human resources services by planning, implementing, and evaluating employee relations and human resources policies, programs, and practices.

Antonio is a graduate of Lippert’s Court Reporting School in Plainview, Texas. He lives in the area with his three children and enjoys fishing, hunting, and golf.

Vanessa Ramirez, Director of Pharmacy

Vanessa leads the pharmacy department in providing the utmost pharmaceutical care and ensuring the patient is our number one priority.

Vanessa’s favorite aspect of pharmacy is talking with patients about their medications and improving their outcomes. Vanessa has over ten years of experience working in a pharmacy. She has both clinical and retail experience.

Vanessa graduated with her Doctors of Pharmacy from the University of Texas at Austin/UTPA Co-Op program. She is married with one son and enjoys running, working out, and spending time with her family outdoors.

Aaron B. Cepeda, RN, MSN, CRRN, Director of Compliance

Aaron’s healthcare views are that every patient’s healthcare experience should be at its highest quality and provided with compassion. He believes that everyone in healthcare deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

Aaron leads STRH as the Director of Compliance as of 2017, with over 24 years of experience in nursing. He graduated from the UT- Brownsville system with a master’s in nursing administration in 2015. Aaron is also certified as a Rehabilitation Registered Nurse and takes pride in all patient interactions and care provided.

His employment with STRH began in 2005. Aaron has worked in many different clinical/managerial positions within the hospital. He is our former Director of Nursing at STRH.

Aaron seeks that all staff members are focused on providing top-notch rehabilitation services using the system’s guiding principles as a basis for their care.

Aaron loves spending time with his family and friends as well as playing a round of golf and going out to the movies.

Alberto Loya, Director of Marketing and Business Development

Alberto has 30 years of medical experience, including 25 years as a respiratory therapist. In his medical experience, Alberto has worked in different departments/settings from neonate, pediatric, trauma, cardiac, and rehabilitation. He also has had different supervisory and director roles.

As DMBD, he is grateful for his team that consists of clinical liaisons, a business development liaison, an inpatient admissions coordinator, and an outpatient admissions coordinator. The team always advocates for our patients and has a good working relationship with the medical community. Alberto is also grateful for the team and multidisciplinary approach amongst all of the hospital’s departments and our physicians for great patient outcomes and patient care.

Alberto enjoys the outdoors such as boating, fishing, hunting and golfing.  In addition, he enjoys spending time with his wife, family, and their dog.

Violet Raynaldo, PT, Director of Therapy Operations

Violet brings 24 years of experience as a physical therapist to South Texas Rehab Hospital. She shares her passion for patient care with her staff in providing compassionate and quality patient care to achieve our patients’ greatest functional potential.

Violet earned her bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Emilio Aguinaldo College in the Phillippines. She has been part of the Ernest Health team for more than ten years.

Along with her husband, Peter, Violet enjoys the outdoors and fishing.

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