In six decades, the organization has evolved from a small community hospital with only 40 beds to a large medical facility with 297 beds and the latest technology that medicine has to offer. The anniversary will be celebrated with the unveiling of the hospital’s new Journey Wall to be placed across from admissions in the lobby of the medical center.
In 1954, Mission was a small town with leaders that recognized the need for a community hospital that could provide extended medical care for its citizens. The Mission City Council led the journey to open a hospital to serve the needs of Mission’s citizens along with neighboring communities to the west, extending into Starr County. Members of the council at that time were Logan Duncan, mayor; commissioners A.J.W. Armstrong, Ramon L de la Garza, M.W. Held, Joaquin Martinez; secretary V.D. Anderson.
When the $650,000 hospital opened at 1205 Bryce Road (now the administration building for the Mission Consolidated Independent School District) it was considered to be one of the most modern hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley. Services provided included general surgery, maternity, laboratory facilities, and X-ray. There was a medical staff of 10 to 20 physicians who provided medical care along with nurses, technicians and other staff support to make the hospital run smoothly. The facilities were designed by architect, Wyatt C. Hedrick.
As the city continued to grow, there were two expansions at that location, both designed by Mission architect, Warren Suter. Based on a report in the Valley Evening Monitor, statistics showed that by 1963 the Mission Hospital had served 2,414 patients, done 487 surgeries and had 80 employees with an annual payroll of $196,378.19.
The first expansion was in 1964 when a new $40,000 wing was added. Capacity was expanded to 48 beds and a new area for physical therapy was added. The new hospital also had a program for training licensed vocational nurses with 30 students enrolled.
The new wing opened Oct. 16, 1964, with Gov. Allan Shivers serving as keynote speaker. Dignitaries attending the event included State Sen. Rodgers Kelley, Honorable Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. and Bernardo Blanco, consul of Mexico.
Keeping up with the latest technology was important, and the community often helped. In 1976, members of the Catholic War Veterans bought the hospital an emergency cardiac monitor and defibrillator, according to an article in Upper Valley Progress on June 23, 1976.
In 1977, the hospital once again was expanded to include 58 bed beds and a larger emergency room. The expansion was done with federal funds that required a 25 percent local match, and $500,000 in bonds were sold for the project. The hospital expanded by 25,000 square feet to include additional beds, three emergency room treatment beds and new technology. The cost of the renovation was $1.5 million.
In 1977, the hospital received a grant from the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council for $7,497 for emergency medical equipment including a defibrillator, wheel chairs and stretchers. There also was a new communications system that allowed ambulances en route to the hospital to speak with hospital staff for the first time, according to an article in the Town Crier published May 11, 1977.
By the 1980s with the rapid growth in the city, hospital leaders realized services were outgrowing the facility’s location and began looking for an area where they could expand. An area south of the expressway on Bryan Road was selected and plans for a new state-of-the-art hospital started. In 1981, realizing operation of a big hospital was beyond the scope of the council, the City of Mission transferred ownership of Mission Hospital Inc. to an independent non-profit organization. The council members who made this decision were Julio Olivares, Juan De Leon, Arnaldo Ramirez, H.T. Nance, and Maureen Duncan.
Other hospitals in the area were for profit.
“A for-profit hospital makes money for its stockholders,” said Nick Espinosa, director of marketing for MRMC. “A non-profit hospital takes the profits it makes and returns them to the community in the form of new technology and equipment to make the hospital run more efficiently.”
The medical staff expanded to include 125 physicians representing 27 specialties. The hospital was equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to provide the highest in quality care. There were 420 employees to staff the hospital including nurses, clinicians, and ancillary departments. The hospital was fully accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditatio,n of Health Care Organization.
In 1991, Mission Doctors Plaza, a two-story medical office building was built adjacent to the hospital. It housed offices for physicians, a wound care center and a private pharmacy.
In 1997, MRMC was expanded to add 16 beds for obstetrics. Another 27 beds for in-patient rehabilitation services, a new emergency department and an ambulatory surgery center also were added.
Still with the rapid growth of the area, more patient space was needed. In 2005, a new five-story tower was added for in-patient care and out-patient rehabilitation services. Intensive care was added along with step-down telemetry, medical/surgical obstetrics and a special neonatal intensive care unit to care for critically ill infants. At the same time the hospital expanded to a 277-bed capacity.
In January 2005, Mission Hospital renamed itself Mission Regional Medical Center, noting that it served patients not only from Mission but Alton and western Hidalgo County cities such as La Joya and Peñitas and extended services to patients from eastern Starr County as well.
In 2007, MRMC added more technology including digital radiography, digital mammography, bone densitometry, a G.E. light speed 64 slice CT scanner and a new patient archival communications system.
In 2008, the NICU expanded to 20 beds bringing MRMC to a total capacity of 297 beds for patients, a far cry from the 40-bed hospital built in 1954 when it opened. A new pediatric care unit was located in the hospital’s north tower. For the first time since it opened in 1954, there was now an exclusive wing dedicated to the care of children.
In 2009, a new S.A.F.E. Place for victims of sexual assault was opened at an undisclosed location in the hospital. Victims of assault, abuse or neglect are brought to the hospital and are cared for by specially trained nurses who gather forensic evidence for the crime lab in their care so that criminal cases can be prosecuted in the future if authorized by law enforcement.
In 2011, MRMC opened the Joint Replacement Institute to provide orthopedic service and outpatient therapy. Espinosa said this is one of the hospital’s most outstanding services and MRMC has received the Gold Seal of Approval for Hip and Knee Replacement Surgery by the Joint Commission for two years in a row. The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits more than 10,600 hospitals.
Dr. Jose Marina, chief of orthopedic surgery of The Joint Replacement Institute, credits the teamwork of those working in the institute with its high level of success.
Also in 2011, MRMC expanded its cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology capabilities with a new state-of-the-art cath lab. The new lab provides physicians the latest in technology and equipment to position stents in blocked arteries, guidewires and catheters. It also aids in treating heart rhythm abnormalities.
Espinosa said the hospital has opened a diabetes program due to the high number of people who have the disease in the Rio Grande Valley. The program offers five classes which include explaining the ramifications of having diabetes and how it affects their bodies to newly diagnosed patients. Patients are taught how to monitor the disease and how to medicate themselves to keep their blood sugars at an optimal level. They are taught the importance of physical activity and are offered nutrition classes to help them choose foods that will keep their bodies healthy instead of making their diabetes worse.
Leaders of MRMC are very proud of how far it has come. From a small community 40-bed hospital in 1954, it is known as one of the top-ranked hospitals in the nation. Between 2005 and 2014, MRMC has received five-star rankings from HealthGrades with recognitions in cardio-pulmonary treatment, maternity and orthopedic procedures. Each of these awards means the hospital ranks within the top 10 percent of all hospitals in the nation for the services it provides.
According to Espinosa, since becoming MRMC, the hospital has served 720,000 patients and provided $240,530,414 in charity medical care. MRMC has delivered 24,000 babies and opened a host of medical specialties to meet the needs of its patients.
It has paid $438,742,703 to hospital employees. Currently, Espinosa said there are more than 300 physicians and a workforce of more than 1,000 employees, each of whom are striving to continue to make MRMC one of the best medical centers in the United States.