Michael Routh, MA, CHC Director of Compliance and Health Information/Privacy Officer

michael routh director compliance and health information

Michael Routh, MA, CHC Director of Compliance and Health Information/Privacy Officer

As Director of Compliance and Health Information and the Privacy Officer, Mike Routh is not a staff member most patients meet. Their care and peace of mind while they are here for treatment is, however, dependent on the work of Mike and his staff.

They plan, control, and actuate medical records functions that assure each patient’s files are complete and accurate. This allows treatment center staff working with a patient to have all the information they need to provide best care.

Mike’s job is also to make certain that other than for approved medical use, patient information remains confidential.

“In terms of compliance, my job is not to say ‘no,’ my job is to figure out how we can ethically complete a task,” he says.

The Drive is ‘No Big Deal’

Mike joined the La Hacienda team in November 2019.  Born in Midland and raised in West Texas, he loved the Hill Country and hoped to live there eventually.

He and his wife, Arita, finally moved just west of San Antonio in 2017 to be closer to their children and grandchildren. He was compliance officer for a downtown San Antonio hospital, but that facility was closing, and he needed a new employer.

A resume sent to La Hacienda resulted in being contacted about the position he holds.

The funniest part of the process, says Mike, was when he was asked in the first phone call, “Do you know where we are?” out of concern that the 90-minute commute would deter him.

“I laughed and said, ‘Yes, I know where you are. I’m driving about an hour and a half now. It’s no big deal to get to Hunt.’”

Special Place and People

Visiting the treatment center for the interview sold Mike on La Hacienda.

“I walked on campus and started meeting the people and thought, ‘Wow, this is a special place!’” It’s an opinion he maintains, and he feels blessed to be a part of the team.

“They are an incredible group of people. Every one of them, regardless of what they do, helps carry out a recovery program that encompasses body, mind, and spirit.”

From Television to Health Care

Mike spent his first 11 years after earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication in television production in Odessa.

“I enjoyed the work. It taught me a lot about organization and how to carry projects through to completion.”

But there was little room for growth or advancement in the production side of TV. “My options were to move to a much larger market, switch to another facet of broadcasting, or start something I had always wanted to pursue–counseling.” He chose the last one.

Work Was the Real Education

To facilitate that change, he earned a Master’s Degree in Psychology. That was like getting a license to learn, says Mike.

“Once I got on the job, that is when I really started to learn.”

He has been involved in health care since 1992 with both behavioral health and acute medical-surgical hospitals.

“It’s great having worked in both; I’ve seen so many different sides of medicine. I have been fortunate to spend a lot of time working with nurses and doctors. Just listening to them taught me so much. It was amazing.”

“Most professionals in health care are also teachers by nature. They love to teach.”

The Importance of Listening

Mike is a good listener, and two of his favorite sayings support the importance of that trait.

  • “Everybody has a story. It doesn’t matter what they are or what they do.”
  • “If you listen, people will tell you their story. If you listen, they can’t help but tell you their story.”

Pets, Family, and Food

Mike enjoys spending time with his children and grandchildren and tackling home improvement projects, watching movies, and exploring the region.

He and his wife have a Miniature Aussie, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and a cat. And a deer herd has adopted them. “When they hear the garage door open, they know to gather in the yard because we will feed them.”

A confessed “foodie,” Mike loves Tex Mex, barbecue, and Cajun cooking. The last, no doubt, due to being the son of a “full-blooded” Cajun mother. That also explains why he is involved in the annual Medina Lake Cajun Festival every September.