On a small plot of land at the highest point of McLennan County in 1917, a team of mules pulled a plow across an empty field breaking ground for what would become Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center. After 87 years of service, Hillcrest continues to break new ground every day, becoming one of the most sophisticated medical facilities in the Southwest.
The beginnings of Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center are traced back to the vision of Arthur James Barton, pastor of Waco's First Baptist Church in 1909. At the time Waco was a small town of less than 25,000 citizens. But the town was growing rapidly, and reports from a Waco Baptist Association meeting at the time asserted there was an "imperative demand" for a Baptist hospital in Waco. In 1912, the Waco Baptist Association appointed a committee to study the idea and appointed a board of directors, headed by James Martin Dawson, in 1915. The hospital received its charter in 1916.
Benefiting from generous money and land donations from Central Texas citizens and area churches, construction on the hospital began July 10, 1917, on 3.2 acres of land outside of Waco at what is now 30th Street and Herring Avenue. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, John T. Harrington, President of the McLennan County Medical Society expressed hope that the new hospital would benefit thousands of families, and because of this the hospital may develop "the best surgical skill in the South."
Work progressed on the building despite the outbreak of World War I and the shortage of building materials. Finally, on May 20, 1920, the 65-bed facility officially opened its doors as Central Texas Baptist Sanitarium, having actually received and treated its first patient the day before when Mable Battle Westbrook was rushed in for an emergency appendectomy. The operation was a success, and already Hillcrest had begun to prove its value in responsive care for patients.
Founders and Leaders of Hillcrest
First Board of Directors-1915:
- J.M. Dawson, President
- F.S. Groner
- C.W. Evans
- John F. Rowe
- Charles Evans
- E.R. Nash
- R.E. Cornelius
- R.B. Carpenter
- A.J. Barton
- R.L. Stribling
- C.G. Howard
- J.B. Riddle
- J.P. Cunningham
- T.A. Wilson
- Dan Jones
- W.T. Mitchell
Baptist Churches Which Helped Found Hillcrest:
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Leaders of Hillcrest
|1920 - 1943||Miss Christine I. Smith, Albert Stubblefield, J.R. Magill, J.B. Coston, H.R. Haney and Lawrence R. Payne|
|1943 - 1972||Julian H. Pace, Administrator|
|1972 - 1992||Alton Pearson, President|
|1992 - 2002||Richard E. Scott, President & Chief Executive Officer|
Arthur L. Hohenberger, FACHE, President & CEO
2007 - Present
Glenn A. Robinson, FACHE, CEO
Mr. Murphy's Horse
Throughout 82 years of operation, Hillcrest has treated many rare medical cases. But in August of 1942, the hospital may have encountered one of its most unusual cases.
A local physician phoned one of Hillcrest's X-ray technicians to request assistance in X-raying his "patient" -- an expensive saddle horse. Apparently the animal had stepped on a nail, and the owner had taken the horse to the physician to see if any bones were broken.
After rolling portable X-ray equipment to the ambulance entrance, the technician carefully positioned the horse and successfully took several X-rays. Later, the technician even consulted with a veterinarian about proper treatment of the animal. In regard for the X-ray technician's flexibility and "horse sense" in handling such an uncommon situation, the event was actually noted in Hillcrest's medical records under patient number 41614, "Mr. Murphy's Horse".
Air Conditioned By Nature
Due to budget constraints in its early years, Hillcrest could not afford the luxury of air conditioning. Instead, the hospital benefited from its location atop the highest point in McLennan County. With cool breezes blowing through the windows on hot Central Texas days, the hospital's slogan was that it was "Air Conditioned by Nature".
Surgery at the time was performed on the top floor of the hospital, so that physicians could take advantage of the good light and comfortable working climate. Today, throughout its facility of nearly one million square feet, Hillcrest is air conditioned with 75 air conditioning systems, producing over 4,000 tons of cooling for the medical center each year.
Despite Hillcrest's successes throughout her 87 years of service, the hospital has not, however, gone without its share of hardships.
In the hospital's early years, Hillcrest was located nearly three miles from town... so undeveloped at the time that the streetcar service to the hospital ended six blocks away. Patients and visitors had to travel the rest of the way up a dirt road that newspaper articles report was nothing more than a "mud bog".