Parkland Hospital: A Dallas Icon the History Term Paper

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Parkland Hospital: A Dallas Icon

The history of the City of Dallas would hardly be complete without consideration of Parkland Hospital and its contributions to the Dallas community. Parkland Hospital began in the Civil War Reconstruction era and has always maintained operations that were state of the art for the time. Parkland hospital has always aligned itself research and the academic community and it is for this reason that Parkland has always offered the latest in techniques and technology. Parkland Hospital has a long tradition of caring for the poor and those who cannot otherwise care for themselves. The following research will highlight the major accomplishments of the hospital from its primitive beginnings to its present position as a leader in patient care and technology Seven years after the end of the Civil War; Dallas became a thriving city. In 1885 the Dallas Morning News began publication, at that time the hospital consisted of a two room hospital and county poor farm.1 Since 1872, the city had employed a physician to give medical attention to prisoners at the county jail.2 This first hospital was rudimentary and resembled a military encampment consisting of wooden buildings arranged in a circular fashion. The conditions were primitive. However, one must remember that at that time there were many places still not served by physicians, let alone a hospital. Much of the medical knowledge at the time sprang from the care of soldiers during the Civil War. The first Dallas hospital resembled a Civil War field hospital and lacked even the basic necessities, such as running water. This is the atmosphere from which the first Dallas hospital sprang. For its time, it was the best medicine had to offer.

The Dallas newspaper urged the citizens of Dallas to donate food to the city hospital in 1888. It needed to feed the patients at this facility and had little means to accomplish this. By that time the hospital was divided into wards and was state of the art for its time. The city government was its chief source of funding at the time. It urged the citizens of Dallas to donate and help those needy citizens convalescing in the hospital.3 This started Parkland's long history of providing services for the needy, a philosophy that it is still proud of today.

The Dallas Daily Times reported that in 1889, the city council had recommended a new location for the city hospital or at least an addition to the new one.4 It was clear that the needs of the community had outpaced the ability of the facility to provideservices. This was only the first of one of many growing pains for Parkland Hospital. It had to grow as the community grew and this was not always easy with the funds available. In 1889 the Dallas Daily Times championed the cause and asked the citizens of Dallas to donate for the building of a new hospital.5 The community responded with enthusiasm and the first formal building was started.

In April of 1890 the new hospital building was located on South Lamar Street.6

The Health inspector reported the facility of be in "good average condition, clean and comfortable."7 At that time, the hospital had 50 beds, and had treated 599 patients in 1889. The hospital had trouble keeping pace with the growth of the Dallas area, which was attracting a growing number of trades and businesses. Dallas was becoming one of the largest cities in the west. In the 1890 report the health inspector recommended that the hospital had outgrown its capacity and recommended that plans be made to build a new building.

In April of 1890, the inspector reported that a small cottage had been built of the Physician to occupy in case of a smallpox epidemic. The inspector noted that the hospital did not yet have a well and had to travel to obtain water. This was a primary concern for sanitation, however, was a common situation at that time. A well was considered a luxury to many, but for sanitation reasons was necessary for the running of a hospital. He generously recommended salary increases for all employees.8

In November of 1890, Dr. W.R. Wilson, city health officer, approached council for $75,000.00 to be used to build a new modern hospital.9 This new proposal was a new concept in hospital management. Instead of being entirely supported by the city, the new hospital would produce its own revenue to cover operating expenses. This was an innovative idea and led to the establishment of one of the first private hospitals in the nation. The hospital would have apartments to rent to patients for their use when physicians recommended that they stay for treatment. The apartments would offer patients personal attention form physicians and nurses.10 The old hospital would be maintained and reserved for emergency cases. The old hospital would also have a dispensary (pharmacy) where the poor could obtain free medicines.11 Dr. Wilson proposed that if the city could not raise sufficient funds to build the hospital, then a tax levy should be proposed to fund it.12

Parkland Hospital still wished to maintain its services to the poor. However, the reality was that operating in this manner would not allow them to provide the best service possible. This new financing idea gave the wealthy an alternative to the wards where many patients were housed and cared for in assembly line fashion. It benefited those who could afford it as well as providing an income that allowed the hospital to become self-supporting.

By April of 1892, the population of Dallas had grown to 45,000 people. Once again the needs of the community outpaced the abilities of the hospital at an alarming rate. The hospital struggled to provide adequate services, but found itself unable to provide even the minimal services in many cases. In 1991, the hospital treated 506 patients. The health inspector noted that the hospital had a low mortality rate. However, it is now grossly inadequate for the size of population that it serves.13

In 1892, Edward Cary began the department of academic opthamology in Dallas. In 1902, the department officially opened under his direction.14 In 1939 Dr. Cary began the Southwestern Medical Foundation to promote medical education. In 1943, the department lost funding and moved to Houston. Dr. Cary remained at Southwestern Medical College and in 1949, Southwestern Medical Collage became part of the University of Texas. Dr. Cary participated in many community and philanthropic activities and stands one of Dallas' greatest community leaders.15

The opthamology department has been the driving force behind many achievements in modern opthamology, including a glaucoma diagnostic and treatment clinic. Currently the Opthamology department is listed as one of the top ten in the Nation and as a result received funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH) to continue its research efforts.16 Members of the team are recognized leaders in many areas including "corneal transplantation, contact lens-borne diseases, corneal wound healing, blepharitis, ocular tumor immunology, regulation of ocular inflammation, the genetic basis of retinal diseases, cause and treatment of age-related macular degeneration, and biochemistry of the meibomian glands."17 Research and treatment at this facility will continue to make it a world-class facility in the are of Opthamology. The Opthamology depart is on eof the oldest at the hospital and has been a driving force of he institution.

By 1894, overcrowding had caused conditions at the old hospital to become highly unacceptable. They lacked a surgical ward, and were located in a part of the city that was now near a freight yard.18

Conditions at the hospital had become unsanitary. The Times Herald brought the issue to the attention of the people and petitioned for the funding of a new hospital. The people complied once again and by 1894, the new building had been completed. It was located at Maple and Oaklawn. The building could hold 22 patients and was two stories high. The new hospital was divided into male wards, female wards, maternity wards, children's wards and a surgical ward.19 The new hospital had a separate ward for colored patients. It had electric lights, an artesian well, a dead house, a well pump ran by a generator. The first ambulance was purchased in 1894. 20

The second story of the hospital was reserved for wealthy patients where they could receive personal care from doctors and nurses.

This was the first version of a modern hospital room. The person would receive food, medicine, and a private physician. The rates were from $7 to $12 per week. The patient would pay $2.50 per day of the room, $2 a day for nurse, $1 for medicine, and $2.50 at the lowest, for a physician, making a sum total of $8 a day.21

The meningitis epidemic of 1911 closed schools, churches, and theaters. This epidemic emphasized the need for a newer, more modern hospital. In 1912, a new building was built in back of the old building. The old building was to be torn down.23 By 1913…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Abraham, Laurie. Dramatic Differences: Dallas Public Hospital: A Lesson for County? Chicago

Reporter. May 5, 1990. Accessed February, 2003.

Conger, Darrell. Southwestern Department of Opthamology History. Department of Opthamology. March 20, 2001. Accessed February, 2003.

Dallas Nephrology Associates. History of DNA. Online. Accessed February 2003.

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