Parkland celebrates 125 years of service to Dallas community

Providing medical care to those in need has been its long-term mission


DALLAS – In 1894, Parkland Hospital opened to fulfill a mission created by inherent goodwill. None envisioned the fledgling haven for medical treatment for the poor would one day become the institution it is today. Now, 125 years after first opening its doors, Parkland Health & Hospital System staff is celebrating more than a century of service to Dallas County residents.

“Parkland was created with the mission to care for our community’s most vulnerable residents,” said Fred Cerise, MD, MPH, Parkland’s President and CEO. “Over the past century, Parkland, in conjunction with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, has led advances in medical care and served as a training site to the benefit of not only uninsured residents of Dallas County residents but individuals across Texas and the entire nation. For 125 years, Parkland’s commitment to our primary mission has remained true – we are Dallas County’s health system and proudly look forward to continue serving those most in need.”

Every day at Parkland, providers treat 811 inpatients, 2,842 outpatients, perform 31,540 lab tests and fill 28,742 prescriptions. Every day 34 babies are born, 73 infants are cared for in the Neonatal ICU and 62 surgeries performed. The nation’s busiest ER, Parkland’s Emergency Department treated more than 242,000 patients in FY2018. The system had more than 1 million outpatient clinic visits and more than 61,000 inpatient hospital discharges.

Throughout its rich history, Parkland has been home to forward thinkers with bold ideas for transforming healthcare.

Milestones in Parkland’s 125 years of service include:
1894 – Parkland Hospital opens in a group of frame buildings at Maple and Oak Lawn Avenues.
1936 – Dallas City-County Hospital System is founded and includes the general city hospital (Parkland, a convalescent home in Hutchins and a third hospital, Woodlawn, for tuberculosis patients).
1952 – Groundbreaking ceremonies for a new Parkland hospital facility are held at 5200 Harry Hines Blvd.
1954 – The new Parkland Memorial Hospital is officially dedicated and the Dallas County Hospital District is created by voters.
1954 – Parkland becomes the first civilian hospital in Texas to use an artificial kidney machine. The next year, the hospital established its first kidney dialysis unit and performed the first corneal transplant in Dallas.
1958 – Parkland opens a four-story outpatient clinic.
1961 – Parkland opens one of the largest civilian burn units in the U.S.
1962 – Parkland offers the first 24-hour staffed operating room in North Texas. Also that year, the Emergency Department became a model system for the nation when it reorganized into six treatment areas and, under the direction of Head Nurse Doris Nelson, began the nation’s first nurse-directed triage system.
Nov. 22, 1963 – President Kenney is brought to Parkland after he is shot by an assassin.
Nov. 5, 1964 – A team led by Paul Peters, MD, perform the first successful kidney transplant in Texas, transplanting a new kidney into 10-year-old Mary Freeman from her identical twin, Nancy.
1966 – The surgery and anesthesiology staffs at Parkland and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center publish the first medical text on trauma, and in 1968, Parkland opens the fourth surgical trauma unit in the US.
1971 – Parkland opens the first High Risk Maternity Unit in the U.S. and first Pediatric Burn Unit in North Texas.
1972 – Parkland opens a new adult Burn Intensive Care Unit.
1973 – Parkland opens the first Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Dallas.
1974 – The old Woodlawn Hospital closes and all its services are transferred to Parkland.
1982 – Dr. Ron Anderson is named chief executive officer.
1983 – Parkland is certified as the first Level 1 Trauma Center in Texas.
1984 – The North Texas Poison Center begins a 24-hour hotline staffed by registered nurse specialists.
1986 – Parkland plays a leadership role in creation of legislation to ban “patient dumping” – the practice of transferring medically unstable patients because of inability to pay – signed into law by President Reagan.
1989 – Parkland begins the Community Oriented Primary Care program, building a network of neighborhood clinics to provide primary care services.
1990 – Parkland launches the Homeless Outreach Medical Services (HOMES) program, bringing vital healthcare services to the homeless population via mobile units.
1996 – The name of Parkland Health & Hospital System is approved, comprising Parkland Memorial Hospital, Community Oriented Primary Care, Parkland Community Health Plan, Inc. and Parkland Foundation.
1999 – The Victims Intervention Program is established to care for patients affected by violence.
2008 – Dallas County voters overwhelmingly (by 82%) approve a bond measure to build a replacement for the aging Parkland Memorial Hospital.
2015 – Parkland shutters inpatient services at its 61-year-old facility and ushers in a new era of 21st century advanced technology and quality care at its new state-of-the-art medical campus that includes acute care inpatient services and outpatient specialty clinics.

Parkland’s past accomplishments are just signs of even greater things to come. The health system continues to innovate and nurture ideas from the medical community’s best and brightest talent.

For example, in Parkland’s Outpatient Antibiotic Therapy (OPAT) clinic patients are taught to self-administer long-term IV antibiotics at home, rather than staying at the hospital for weeks when they would prefer to be at home in a more comfortable, lower-cost setting. “This innovation challenges the traditional healthcare delivery system structure to emphasize the needs of the patient,” Dr. Cerise noted.

Parkland is also making it easier for patients to access care, moving knowledge rather than people. In Parkland’s electronic consult program, medical staff use the electronic medical records to provide consultations directly to primary care providers. In some clinics more than 40% of the consults can be done this way, saving patients the inconvenience of a face to face consultation visit.

A far-reaching new program known as the Parkland Score for Adherence to Medication (PSAM) is improving the way providers care for patients with chronic diseases. Using algorithms and pharmacy data to identify patients having trouble adhering to their medications, PSAM loads a medication adherence score into the electronic medical records where providers can access the information real-time during a healthcare visit, allowing them to help overcome barriers preventing patients from taking prescribed medications.

As the healthcare system in the U.S. evolves and changes, Parkland is building a care model that is more efficient, focused on quality outcomes, more convenient and accessible for patients, and more cost effective.

From its roots as a small community hospital to a world leader in public health programs and services, Parkland Health & Hospital System has grown with Dallas County to meet its changing needs. Today, Parkland is a fully integrated healthcare system, supported by a community health plan and philanthropic foundation, that provides high-quality, compassionate care to the community.

Today, as in the past, Parkland remains focused on its primary mission of helping to build healthy lives for Dallas County residents.

For more information about services available at Parkland, please visit For more information about how Parkland is transforming healthcare, view Parkland’s Annual Report FY2018 at


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