Southeast Texas Medical Associates, LLP James L. Holly, M.D. Southeast Texas Medical Associates, LLP

Letters - Dr. Holly’s Final Note to SETMA Staff
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December 21, 2018

When I arose at 4:30 this morning, I realized that due to circumstances while this is only December 21, 2018, it is the last day that I will have as the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Southeast Texas Medical Associates to send a final note to the organization into which I have poured my life for the past twenty-three years.  Carolyn’s mother is in the hospital following hip replacement due to aseptic necrosis.  On the 26th, we will move her to a Skilled Nursing Facility for further rehab before hopefully going back home.  

As of the end of the day December 31, 2018, I will no longer be a part of SETMA.  My office is empty, everything related to me has been removed from SETMA, and as of the January 1 2019, I will no longer have access to SETMA computers, EMR, or offices.  There is nothing unusual about this but it is sobering and to some degree saddening.

Everything that needs to be done has.  My new e-mail address will be .  Since the address will soon belong to another, the content which I wrote will be at .  My cell phone number will be the same and my home number is listed in the phone book.  

All required notifications of my retirement have been made and Carolyn and I have enjoyed a retirement dinner which could not have been better.  A summary of that evening will be found in the addendum at the end of this note.


As I leave, I wish to say to each of you and to all of you, I leave with no regrets.  We did it right and we did it well.  There are some experiences I would rather not have had, but as to those things over which we had control, I would not change anything It is my hope and prayer that all of you will have a future which will be equal to your past, or perhaps even better. 

The Core Values Which Built SETMA

SETMA has always been a multispecialty, multicultural, multinational, multiethnic and multi-faith organization.  I have always been respectful of this fact and have never allowed SETMA to be used for sectarian purposes.  In respect to one group, we have never allowed pork to be served at a SETMA dinner or meeting.  

Nevertheless, on May 30m 1996, less than a year after the founding of SETMA, August 1, 1995, I wrote a “personal note” to the staff of SETMA.  This same message has been repeated publicly and in a published manner at least five times in the past twenty-three years.  

Since that note was from me and it was designated as personal, I cannot think of a better way to end my time with SETMA than to make sure that everyone is keenly aware of who I am and of what I believe.  With that intent, please read the following. 

Deuteronomy 8 was a favorite passage of our Lord Jesus Christ, as was the entire book of Deuteronomy. In verses 2 and 3, chapter eight addresses the importance of humility on the part of men. Verse 3 declares that that humility will lead men to understand the central place which the Word of God, the Bible, has in the life of the believer.  Deuteronomy 8 principally reminds us that it is God Who gives us the power to “get money.” Verses 11-17 state:

“Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.”

Here is the beginning of the corruption of what any man has received, the pride of believing that he achieved it by himself, and in arrogance believing that he deserved it to begin with. Deuteronomy 8 concludes with the solution to this pride, which is humility. It states:

“But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.”

I personally wish to affirm that it is God Who has blessed me and my participation in SETMA, LLP, and to remember that it is “He that gives us power to get wealth.” And, I wish to acknowledge that the purpose of that wealth is that through God’s blessings others might see that living by God’s rules is good.

As I have often told you, this is not a religious organization and you do not have to believe what I have said in order to be a part of this organization. Nevertheless, I do want you to know that the benefits which you are receiving through SETMA, LLP are a product of God’s blessing. I also want you to know that I believe that those benefits and blessings will continue as long as we do not forget the Lord in not keeping His commandments. For SETMA, LLP “keeping His commandments” means:

  1. Being true to the founding principles which in the corporate documents. 
  2. Being true to our motto of “Health Care Where Your Health is the Only Care.” 
  3. Being true to the associates’ commitment to “doing good while we are doing well.” 
  4. Humbly acknowledging those who have made us successful, that particularly being God. 
  5. Treating everyone with whom we deal, whether colleague, co-worker, client, customer, or company, with dignity, courtesy and kindness. 
  6. Avoiding profanity in both our language and in our “use” of others. 

In SETMA, LLP, we have an opportunity to do something really important, which is much more than just making money. We have the opportunity to show Southeast Texas that respect for the dignity of every individual and a desire to do good for others are not inconsistent with prosperity. At strategic moments in this corporation’s life, we have prayed for God’s wisdom and favor. He has abundantly given both, for which we give Him thanks, and publicly acknowledge His grace and mercy.

In a recent letter to the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, I said:

“As a Christian business man, I am very sensitive to maintaining biblical standards in my medical practice. As the managing partner of the largest, private, primary health care group in Southeast Texas, I am careful to make certain that no activity of this partnership violates God’s standards, to the best of my ability. Our corporate documents include prohibitions preventing anyone in this practice from ever performing an abortion, referring a patient for an abortion, or recommending an abortion. We also have prohibitions against beverage alcohol being used in any meeting, gathering, dinner, luncheon, banquet, picnic, or barbecue sponsored by, paid for by or associated with Southeast Texas Medical Associates, LLP.

“Southeast Texas Medical Associates, LLP maintains three standards of measuring any decision, all three must be met before we undertake any action. First, we ask the question:

  • ‘Is it legal?’ - this involves ethics. If an action is not legal, we need go no further in our evaluation; we will not do it. But, even if an action is legal, we are not yet at the point of decision; we move to the second step of our evaluation, which applies a higher standard. We ask the question, 
  • ‘Is it right?’ - this involves equity, i.e., is it fair to all parties. However, even if a decision is right, this does not get us to a final decision. Before we decide anything, we go one step further and ask the question, 
  • ‘Is it righteous,’ - this involves eternity. If it is not righteous, no matter how legal and right an action may be, Christians should not be involved in it. 

If an action is not ethical, equitable and eternally acceptable, we do not enter into any business agreement. Thus far, God has blessed our practice beyond our comprehension.” 

I pledge to you not to forget from whence our blessing comes. I pledge to you that I personally will continue to seek to conduct myself ethically, equitably and eternally, as I pursue the goals which we have established together. I pledge to you to bring no destruction upon your livelihood by forgetting that it is God Who allows me to be a part of what we are doing, and that it is He Who allows us to succeed.

In conclusion, this is a very personal note. That is why I have signed it personally and not as the CEO of SETMA, LLP. I will never attempt to force my faith upon you. But, I would be negligent, if I did not tell each of you that no matter what you face, no matter who you are, Jesus Christ, God Himself, has the power and desire to give you eternal life, which includes victory over the trials of your life, hope for the future, and joy in all circumstances. Incredibly, all of this is available by the same act to which God has led me in these past few hours. It is available by humbling yourself, acknowledging Who God is, and asking Him to make a difference in your life.

God bless you. It is my prayer today, as it is each time I sign your pay check, that your association with SETMA, LLP will be the best occupational experience of your life, and that it will be an experience which will encourage you ‘to come to Jesus.”


As I have thought of what I would and should say to you upon this occasion, I cannot think of any better way to end my association with each of you than to say to you, no matter how much money you make, no matter how long you live, no matter how notable you are, or how high of praise you receive from men, without a personal relationship with Jehovah God, in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ, the summary of your life will be incomplete.  

God bless you and I hope to hear that you do well, always.

James L. Holly, M.D.

Adjunct Professor
Department of Family and Community Medicine
UT Health San Antonio
Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine 

Associate Professor
Department of Internal Medicine
Texas A&M University
School of Medicine 


The following are the u-tube videos of the Retirement Dinner in four parts:

Video 1 - Introduction, Invocation and Rebecca Andrews Address and the President of NSU’s address

Video 2 - UT Health San Antonio President Address and Carolyn Holly’s Address

Video 3 - Dr Holly and the beginning of the public comments with David Stone, Muhammad Aziz, Rusty Mathis, Robert Culbertson, Theresa Bailey,

Video 4 Public Comment Joe Bill Holland, Carolyn Holly, Charles Vessels, David Parmer, Hannah Katherine McMahan, Carrie Holly McMahan, Mark Toups, Dr Holly about LaNell.

Most of the responses to Carolyn and me leaving SETMA have been collected into a document at the following link: .

One response which has not been posted as of this writing is from Joe Bill Holland, MD.  On November 29, 2018, he wrote:  

“1978 seems like a long time ago, when we first met — Retirement was the last thing either of us was thinking about.  God has been good to both of us, and I give Him thanks for that and your friendship.  You have been the dominant leader and innovator of health care in South East Texas.  You have positively touched thousands of lives in Southeast Texas and abroad, and He is truly proud of you.  I have treasured your advice, wisdom and guidance through the years and don’t think that will cease!  Thank you for everything!  May He continue to bless you, Carolyn your family!  Job well done! Joe Bill”