Term Paper: Parkland Hospital: A Dallas Icon

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[. . .] 24 In 1914, the hospital opened a school of nursing. In 1914 Parkland hospital served 9,405 patients and performed 74,042 clinical treatments. There were other units added in 1922 and 1930.25 This hospital consisted of a group of wooden buildings laid out in the plan of a military encampment. This plan was efficient and allowed the ability of house patients in different wards. For instance, contagious patients could be kept separated from newborns in the maternity ward. In 1934 funds were approved for expansion of existing facilities.26 By 1935, thee hospital had grown considerably. It now consisted of four separate facilities. One was for needy invalids and one was for contagious diseases such as tuberculosis. The hospital now contains a clinical laboratory, operating rooms, a maternity department and an electro-therapy department. 27

In 1948, Dr. M.T. Jenkins started the department of Anesthesiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Jenkins was the recipient of several distinguished service awards.28 Parkland hospital had one of the first anesthesiology departments in the nation and was a leader in its field.

In 1954, once again responding to the needs of an ever-growing population. Parkland Hospital moved to the current site at Harry Hines. The old building at Maple and Oaklawn has since been used for a variety of purposes including housing the Dallas County correctional facility 29

On April 2, 1957, Dallas was devastated by a tornado. The tornado cut a 16-mile swath through downtown Dallas. The tornado left Parkland Hospital untouched, but the hospital saw 175 patients in two hours that day 30 The tornado left 10 dead, 200 injured, and did $4 million in damage 30 Coincidentally, Parkland hospital had practiced a mock disaster drill only a few days before the tornado hit. The path of the tornado headed toward the hospital and then apparently veered North and missed the facility. 31 It might be noted that actual death and injury reports vary from 10-20 deaths and 175-200 injured depending on the news source.

Parkland Hospital is accustomed to being the recipient of media attention. Most of the time the news has historically centered on new medical breakthroughs or innovations in the medical industry. However, in November of 1963, Parkland Hospital would once again be in the news, only this time it would be one of the saddest occasions in our nation's history. On November 22, 1963, First Wife Jacquelyn Kennedy accompanied her husband on a 10-mile motorcade through streets of Dallas. At 12:30 PM as the motorcade passed in from of he Texas School Book Depository Building, Lee Harvey Oswald supposedly fired three shots from the sixth floor of the building. President Kennedy was hit in the head and Governor John Connally, who was accompanying him, was also injured. They were rushed to Parkland Hospital where doctors furiously attempted to save the life of the 35th President of the United States. However, despite their best efforts, the President died 30 minutes after his arrival 32.

The statements of the doctors at Parkland hospital who attended the President became key to the conviction of Lee Harvey Oswald. The most widely quoted source is a book written by Gerald Posner, 33 who supposedly interviewed the doctors who attended Kennedy. Posner's work has recently come under heavy criticism and doubt as several Parkland Doctors came out to dispute that the actual contents of Posner's book reflect what they actually saw or what they actually originally said.34 Posner's statements were obtained long after the incident occurred. 35 The statements contained in Posner conflict with earlier statements made by doctors at an earlier time. Many believe that the earliest statements would be more reliable as the doctors did not have time to consider the implications of what they were about to say.

Several Doctors have eluded that they may have changed their statements due to a fear of negative consequences to their careers if they spoke out against the Warren Commission. One example is contained in the following, found in Kent,36. In an interview with Dr. Charles Baxter, which Posner supposedly conducted on March 12, 1992, Dr. Baxter made the following statement, "I never even saw the back of his head. The wound was on the right side, not the back." However in the original report, Dr. Baxter said "The right temporal and occipital bones were missing and the brain was lying on the table." 37. There are other such examples of the Doctors who originally worked on President Kennedy, who changed their original stories according to the Posner Report. This places Parkland Hospital in the center of the controversy once again. The question now is, did the doctors lie, or is the Posner report incorrect? If Parkland doctors did change their statements, why would they do this and risk their professional credibility?

There are many who contend that the information given by the doctors was influenced by publicity and that they were coerced into making the statements. There are some who say that Lee Harvey Oswald is innocent and that the statements by the doctors are important in proving that the bullet could not have come from the direction where Oswald was standing. The testimonies of the doctors are an important clue in this argument. They were in a stressful situation and had only seconds to make decisions. We may never know the answers to some of the questions regarding these tense moments in our nation's history. The day when Parkland Hospital lost the President of the United States was a grim day in the hospital's history.

In 1970, Parkland hospital added a state of the art Nephrology department to assist patients who needed hemodialysis to keep them alive during kidney failure38 This department soon gained an excellent reputation and still stands as one of the leading facilities in the nation.39 The nephrology department has worked closely with Southwestern School of Medicine and has resulted in many improved techniques that have saved many lives.

In 1998 a meticulous restoration project began on the face of the original Parkland Hospital Building at Maple and Oaklawn.40 After renovation the building will once again be used as a part of the Parkland Hospital System, housing the new Health Services Center, the focus of the new facility will be to provide public educational services. 41

The Maple and Oaklawn building are Dallas Historical landmarks and will once again serve the needs of the community that built them. As the community once gave them life, they will once again give the community life.

In 1992, Parkland hospital became the object of yet another controversy. The controversy this time was whether to allow McDonalds to build a restaurant inside the hospital. 42 The mains issue was that the contract was not awarded to the most qualified bidder and that the selection committee seemed to show favoritism in its choice. This issue is still debated and has yet to reach a resolution.

Parkland is a private hospital, whose mission differs from that of its only major competitor, the County Hospital. The County Hospital admitted 34,000 patients in 1989, while Parkland admitted 40,000. 43 Half of these patients were uninsured at both facilities. Parkland continues to hold to the principles of philanthropy in offering serviced to the needy. There are some who criticize its intention recently however, and contend that it only caters to the wealthy.

Parkland offers a very different atmosphere than County. County is noted for dark halls, where patients are placed in large ward separated by curtains. In Abraham 44 we find a statement by Jack Salmon, a professor of health administration at the University of Illinois,

I've been in a lot of health organizations in the past 20 years, and Parkland was very impressive to me, the feeling you got in clinical areas, how people smiled, how they talked to each other, was very good. It's that energy that makes a healing organization" 45.

However, this was not always the case. Prior to the 1970s all hospitals in Dallas were primarily in the same state. In the 1970s Parkland found itself in a dilapidated state and financial tutmoil.46 The financial crisis became severe and something had to be done. In 1978, a campaign was begun to turn the ailing hospital around. They hired an influential businessman named Anderson as the new hospital administrator. 47 Anderson had no political aspirations and began to pump money into improvements. His key accomplishment has been the completion of a 10-year, $80 million rehabilitation and expansion project 48 Parkland has emerged from the bad times, and has once again become a world-class state of the art facility.

The end of the road has not been reached for Parkland and Anderson now has plans to build a de-centralized system of primary care clinics to serve the local communities.49 The project is expected to be completed in 2008. Parkland retains its commitment to academics and the advancement of the medical field thorough its affiliation… [END OF PREVIEW]

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