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Building a community of care: The history of Park Plaza Hospital 
Thursday, 30 May 2002 

In 1975, women were admitted to the Coast Guard
Academy for the first time, Arthur Ashe became
Wimbledon’s first black men’s singles champion
and Park Plaza Hospital opened its doors
to the community.

It all started in 1972, when six physicians at
Hermann Hospital decided to leave their practices
and venture out on their own.

"We had lobbied for a medical school to be put in
at Hermann Hospital," says Henry Goodwin Glass,
M.D., Chief of Surgery at Park Plaza Hospital
and member of the Executive Committee. "But
when the school came in, it changed the way we
practiced medicine. Our private patients were
turned over to residents and interns once they
were admitted to the hospital. We couldn’t even
write orders on the chart."

Feeling as though they had lost control of their
patient’s, the group started plans for a new
community hospital in Houston-founded on high
quality and compassionate care.

Three years to completion

"The six of us began meeting every night for
three years," recalls Cecil Christensen,
M.D., Chief of Orthopedics at Park Plaza
and Chairman of the Board. "We
would met at 7 o'clock every morning or evening."

The group did business under the name Ewing
Center, Inc. "We didn’t want anyone at
the medical center to know who we were, so we
decided not to put anything ‘medical’ in
the name," says Dr. Glass. "We chose Ewing
because it was the street running through
the empty blocks of land we wanted to buy."

The initial challenge was getting enough people
to commit money. But 16 joined the original six,
bringing the number of general partners to 22.
One of them was Dr. Glass’ brother T.F. Glass, Jr.

Glass, Jr. was president of a construction
company at the time, and had quite a bit of
expertise in building hospitals. Because the
group wanted to build a hospital with
circular nursing units, they traveled to
Minnesota to see the architectural firm that had
done planning for the University of Minnesota and
Mayo Clinic. Then, they hired an architect.

After getting a certificate of need from the
mayor, the partners started selling the rest
of the shares. More than 125 limited partners
joined in the efforts. They formed the Medical
Center Limited.

"Our vision was to have the best hospital in
town," says Dr. Christensen. "We wanted a place
where patients would be cared for by their
individual physicians and could see the
circular nursing stations right from their rooms."

To reflect the circulate, plaza-type shape in
which the hospital would be built, Park Plaza
was chosen as the name.

A hospital opens

After three long years of planning, Park Plaza
Hospital opened on April 13, 1975, as a general
acute care hospital with 356 beds. Dr. Glass was
the first Chief of Staff. "It was an exciting
time, and we had an excellent administration," he
says. But, as with many new projects, the first
few months were a struggle. The hospital needed
to establish itself in the community and, because
it was operating on a start-up budget, funds were

"We needed 220 patients to break even and pay our
note," says Dr. Glass. "Every day, people would
ask me what the census was. Finally, one of the
administrators put up a sign in the employee
entrance that said ' Census of the day is 220…
--whatever it was for the day."

Looking toward the future

It didn’t take long before Park Plaza was
recognized as a leader in community care.

Now, 25 years later, with 468 beds and more than
750 affiliated physicians, the hospital is
fulfilling the mission of its founding fathers.

"It has been very exciting to see the evolution
of medicine at Park Plaza," says Dr.
Christensen. "Just 25 years ago, there was
nothing in the corner there but empty fields.
Now is an opportune time for new physicians and
patients to strengthen Park Plaza Hospital. Our dedication to the health of the community will
continue to expand into the 21st century.

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