South Texas Health System History

South Texas Health System has deep roots in the Rio Grande Valley. Now home to more than 2,200 employees at nine facilities, it's the largest healthcare provider in the area. The history of South Texas Health System stretches back to humble beginnings a century ago. The cities of McAllen and Edinburg were center stage for healthcare growth.

McAllen: From House Calls to Hospitals

A century ago, McAllen residents got a doctor's care any way they could. In 1918, Dr. Frank Osborn built a pharmacy and medical offices in McAllen. A few years later, Dr. J.M. Doss combined his home with an office and hospital. McAllen's first Latino doctor, Dr. Carlos Balli, opened a practice in 1920. Legend has it he made house calls on horseback.*

However, McAllen needed sounder healthcare for its residents. Dr. Osborn and others began a movement in 1923 to establish the first municipal hospital in McAllen. A bond issue for $25,000 was passed by the city government, and the block of land where City Hall now stands was purchased for $1,300. McAllen Municipal Hospital opened in January 1925 with facilities for the care of 25 patients. McAllen soon outgrew the first hospital, and in June 1927, a bond issue for $250,000 was voted upon and passed. McAllen General Hospital was completed in 1928. This building was placed on the first half of the block next to the original hospital, which was converted into nurses living quarters.

The hospital underwent two more expansions in 1954 and 1960, each expansion costing approximately $1 million. The 1960 expansion included a newborn nursery with 36 bassinets, bringing the total number of patient beds to 200. The building and equipment was now worth in excess of $3 million. More growth and medical advances demanded new additions again in 1967 and 1973. The hospital building that stood for decades and had been renamed multiple times was finally demolished in 1993 to make room for the new McAllen City Hall.

McAllen Medical Center and Beyond

The successor to the municipal hospitals came in late 1985 with the opening of the six-story McAllen Medical Center, which still operates today in the original building. Today, the building is eight stories tall.

McAllen Medical Center is home to the Valley's first neonatal intensive care unit and neonatal surgery center. It is the designated Level III Trauma Center for Hildago County. Through its affiliation with the McAllen Family Medicine Residency Program, the hospital continues its commitment to training and keeping doctors in South Texas.

McAllen Heart Hospital opened on January 15, 1996 as a specialty care facility dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. The 60-bed hospital provides comprehensive inpatient and outpatient cardiac care and a 24-hour Emergency Center. McAllen Heart Hospital was designed to provide an excellent and efficient setting for the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. McAllen Heart Hospital was purchased from MedCath Corporation in January 2001 by Universal Health Services, Inc. (UHS), and it continues to operate as specialty hospital focused on cardiac care. McAllen Heart Hospital is the first freestanding cardiology and cardiovascular hospital in the nation, and continues to receive national accolades for outstanding care.

Edinburg: From Homes to a Medical Hub

Like those in McAllen, Edinburg residents had to be a little creative about getting medical care in the early days. Beginning in 1916, W.R. Montgomery allowed doctors to perform surgery from his home, on the corner of S. Closner and E. Country Club Drive.

It wasn't long before Edinburg needed more than the few beds at Montgomery's house. In 1927, Grandview Hospital was completed. This was a time of major growth in the city, and the hospital was soon followed by the Chamber of Commerce and Edinburg College.

Grandview Hospital served the community until 1968 when Edinburg General Hospital was constructed on 333 W. Freddy Gonzalez Drive. Later changed to Edinburg Hospital, it underwent two major expansions: one in the 1970s and another in the 1980s. The hospital operated as a governmental, non profit, Hospital Authority until it was sold to Universal Health Services, Inc. in November 1994. As part of its commitment to the community, Universal Health Services, Inc. began construction in July 1996 on the fourth generation hospital in the community. On August 1, 1997, Edinburg Regional Medical Center opened its doors to care for the residents of the community.

Cornerstone Regional Hospital, co-owned by physician investors, became part of South Texas Health System in 2005. In March 2006, Edinburg Children's Hospital was added to the campus as the first freestanding children's hospital in the Rio Grande Valley. Later that year, Edinburg Regional Rehab Center opened its new location on the second floor inside Edinburg Regional Medical Center. With expansions and access to care on the rise, South Texas Behavioral Health Center relocated from McAllen and opened a new replacement facility in June 2006 to service behavioral health patients of the Rio Grande Valley.

*Source: Texas Historical Commission