Steven Webb has come home.
Born in Searcy 38 years ago, Webb returned to White County on July 9 as president and CEO of Unity Health. Webb replaces Ray Montgomery, CEO for the past 30 years, who earlier this year announced his plans to retire in August.
“I am very fortunate … very blessed,” said Webb, former vice president and administrator at Baptist Health Medical Center-North Little Rock.
“I’m very excited about being here … very humbled, too. I am very impressed with the legacy and culture Ray has built here,” Webb said.
“Steven Webb has already, in his short time at Unity Health, demonstrated a passion for excellence in patient care, as well as a humble approach to listening,” Montgomery said. “I have no doubt he will forge a vision of continuous improvement and world-class care that Unity Health is known for.”
Webb first became familiar with Unity Health when it was known as White County Medical Center; he completed a fellowship there in 2006.
“Ray brought me in for the fellowship in 2006,” Webb said.
I’m [back] here now,” he said, smiling. “It feels like home.
“Everyone has been very welcoming to me. A lot of the faces I saw in 2006 are still here. … It’s nice to be back.”
Webb said his first goal at Unity Health is “to get to know the organization and the people.”
“I want to learn more about the culture. … My focus is on getting to know the people,” he said. “I am going to every floor. I can already see how much the employees care about what they do and how much they care about each other.
“I hope to lead this organization for a long time.”
Webb is a son of Bryan and Mary Lynn Webb of Bald Knob. His father is the minister at Rocky Point Baptist Church in Judsonia, and Steven’s mother is a speech pathologist for the Riverview School District.
Steven has two sisters and two brothers — Alison Webb, 42, who is a doctoral student at Louisiana State University; David Webb, 34, who is stationed with the Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Sarah Davis, 32, who is a school teacher in Kirbyville, Texas; and Caleb Webb, 20, of Bald Knob.
Although he was born in Searcy, Steven said he grew up all around Arkansas while his dad pursued his education and advanced in his ministry.
Steven Webb is married to the former Elizabeth Lamb, who grew up in Dallas, Texas, a daughter of Berle and Dot Lamb of Duncanville, Texas. The Webbs have four children — Peyton, 14; Paige, 12; Presley, 11; and Piper, 9.
“Elizabeth works. … She works very hard at home,” Webb said.
Webb graduated from Arkansas Baptist High School in Little Rock in 1998 and from East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas, in 2003 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in management. He attended graduate school at Texas Women’s University to pursue a degree in health care management but later transferred to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where he received a master’s degree in health-service administration in 2006.
“I really had a positive experience at UALR,” he said. “I had great professors, smaller classes and gained a lot of real-world experience.”
He said he decided to go into the field of hospital administration because he always wanted to have a ministry.
“I thought a hospital would be a good place to do that,” Webb said.
“I was looking for a job in Marshall, Texas, after graduation when we found ourselves unexpectedly in the hospital. My wife had our first child 28 weeks into her pregnancy. Our son weighed 2 pounds 8 ounces. It was a very scary time for us. We hadn’t even picked out a name for him …,” he said.
“… We received excellent care. That experience motivated me to want to give back. …
I realized how much of a positive impact hospitals could have on people’s lives,” Webb said.
“I knew he was going to be OK, but my wife was afraid to see him at first. … She was afraid he might not make it,” Webb said. “We named him Peyton, which is a derivative of Patton, which means warrior. His middle name is Andrew. … That means strong or courageous. We thought that name was a good fit for him.
“He was born Feb. 4, 2004. He’s now 14 and doing fine.”
After the birth of his son, Webb said, he “went to work.”
“I got into graduate school at UALR and worked at [the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences] as a patient representative in the medicine clinic,” he said. “I was working full time, going to grad school full time and living in Bald Knob.
“I came here, to Unity Health (formerly White County Medical Center), and did the fellowship in May 2006. That was a wonderful opportunity to be able to experience management at a hospital … to be able to work with staff and physicians. It was a good learning experience.”
Upon completion of the residency in Searcy, Webb took a job as an analyst at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview, Texas. From there, he worked his way up the ladder to become administrator and CEO at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Linden, Texas, where he served from February 2007 to May 2009.
His next move brought him back to Arkansas, where he joined the Baptist Health system as administrator at Baptist Health Medical Center-Stuttgart. In July 2012, he became vice president of patient services at Baptist Health Medical Center-North Little Rock, and in 2015, he was named vice president and administrator of the hospital.
“I spent nine years with Baptist Health,” Webb said. “It is a quality organization. I greatly appreciate the opportunities they gave me. They taught me a whole lot. … I learned to care about the employees.”
Webb is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. He and his family attend Central Baptist Church in North Little Rock but will be looking for a new church when they relocate to Searcy.