In the Courier-Times--Telegraph on March 14, 1937, the Sunday before Mother Frances Hospital was scheduled to open, several articles detailed the upcoming dedication, a look at the facility's modern equipment and revisited the campaign that brought the hospital to Tyler.
Officials were excited about March 19, but the planned opening day dedication did not happen.
About 25 miles away, an explosion in the basement of the New London school claimed the lives of nearly 300 children, teachers and townspeople. Hundreds more were wounded. The new hospital opened one day early to care for victims of the disaster.
Near Mother Frances, the Bryant Clinic, which later became Trinity Clinic, also treated the injured.
Darin Szilagyi, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at the health system, said he recognizes that the joint 75th anniversaries are a deep part of the hospital's history.
“As you go back into the story, what you can see is that the founders mobilized themselves to lend care and provide exceptional service when there was a strong need,” Szilagyi said. “It may be human nature at a pinnacle event like that, but what you see and what we've done throughout the region since then has been that spirit that says that what we care about improving lives.”
He added, “We have that day to look back to as a constant reminder of our mission.”
Szilagyi pointed to the hospital system's recognition as being the 16th best integrated system in the United States by the IMS, a company that compares hospital performance.
“While that may be surprising to some, that same spirit of where we were at our founding has us at the head of the game when it comes to delivering the types of health care that's demanded for tomorrow.”
Born to a cultured and wealthy family near Warsaw in 1842, she felt called to dedicate her life to God in the service of others. Known in religious life as Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd, Mother Frances gathered other young women to found an order, which spread throughout the world.
In 1885, Mother Frances traveled with 11 other Polish Sisters to Chicago, founding a hospital and schools in the Polish community there. The Sisters came to Texas in 1927 to teach in schools and care for the sick. In 1937, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth came to Tyler from the Sacred Heart Province in Chicago to open Mother Frances Hospital.
The hospital system has experienced numerous expansions and additions since its opening. The once modest hospital and small clinic is now Smith County's largest employer and one of the highest rated integrated health systems in the U.S.
Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics employ more than 4,000. Its facilities include six hospitals, 36 clinics with more than 300 physicians and mid-level providers throughout the region.
In observance of the anniversary, Trinity Mother Frances will host events on March 18, 19 and 24.
On March 18, a special Mass will be held at 9 a.m. in the chapel on the campus of Mother Frances Hospital-Tyler.
On Monday, David M. Brown, co-author of “Gone at 3:17: The Untold Story of the Worst School Disaster in American History,” will hold a public book signing in the lobby of Mother Frances Hospital-Tyler. Jimmie Jordan Robinson, a survivor of the explosion, is scheduled to accompany Brown. Additional private events are scheduled for employees, New London residents and survivors.
John Moore, public information officer, said the hospital's observances this week is two pronged. Trinity Mother Frances and representatives of the New London Museum collaborated on a video story in observance of the anniversary. The video can be viewed at ww.tmfhc.org/newlondonstory.
“What we're looking at is trying to draw more attention to the New London museum,” he said. “As far as our anniversary of the hospital's opening, we'll have the Day of Play on the 24th which is more festive.”
At Saturday's free event, there will be give-aways, health information and games from 1-3 p.m. at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
“We are blessed to be 75 years strong,” said Steven P. Keuer, MD, president and chief medical officer, Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics.
Mother Frances Hospital Milestones
Community leaders and the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth create Tyler's first hospital. Doors open a day early on March 18 to treat hundreds of seriously wounded teachers and children after an explosion destroys New London School about 25 miles southeast of Tyler.
A $500,000 four-story wing was dedicated, more than doubling the size of Mother Frances Hospital from 60 to 150 beds. $200,000 in new equipment is also installed.
Mother Frances Hospital receives Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals' full accreditation. There are 55,580 patients admitted since the hospital's opening in 1937.
October 5-12, Tyler celebrates Mother Frances Week in honor of the dedication of a new 140,000 square-foot wing added on the north side of the hospital. The $4.5 million project includes renovation of existing facilities and increases the number of hospital beds to 240.
Mother Frances Hospital develops an ICU/Cardiac Care Unit to meet the needs of the growing region. The Cardiac Care Unit is one of the first of its type in the U.S.
Mother Frances Hospital installs nuclear X-ray equipment, becoming the first in the area to utilize nuclear medicine in the diagnostic field.
Telemetry is added to monitor heart patients at Mother Frances Hospital and ultrasound capability is added to the special procedures and X-ray areas.
Mother Frances Hospital expands obstetric facilities and education and allows husbands in delivery rooms for the first time.
Arthroscopic knee surgery was first offered at Mother Frances Hospital, using a new $30,000 camera and equipment to assist orthopedic surgeons.
Mother Frances Hospital is granted approval by the Texas Health Facilities Commission to provide open-heart surgery.
Mother Frances Hospital Foundation is organized to create an opportunity to share its programs, services and activities with the community.
Tyler Square Day Surgery Unit opens. The 13,000 square-foot facility is the only one of its kind in the area and one of only 300 similar facilities in the U.S.
Mother Frances Hospital is recognized by The Wall Street Journal as one of the Top Ten Hospitals in the country, with the lowest mortality rate for open-heart surgery — less than one percent.
Groundbreaking takes place for the new physician's clinic site on East Douglas Street. The $6.3 million facility now is known as Trinity Clinic.
Mother Frances Hospital creates the FamilyCARE Center to meet the needs of medically underserved women and children in Tyler and Smith County, providing obstetric, gynecological and pediatric services to patients.
The merger of Trinity Clinic with Mother Frances Hospital creates Trinity Mother Frances Health System, uniting the region's largest group of primary care physicians with the area's leading hospital.
The Ross Breast Center of Trinity Mother Frances Health System opens, providing the first and only comprehensive breast cancer facility in the region.
Trinity Mother Frances Health System, Good Shepherd Medical Center and Memorial Health System of East Texas partner to form Champion EMS, which provides emergency transport services to an expanded area in east Texas.
Trinity Mother Frances Health System combines sports and orthopedic services under one roof. HealthPark Plaza, at 1327 Troup Highway in Tyler, offers a convenient location for patients to access services.
The Ornelas Tower opens. The facility adds 152 new private patient rooms and 16 new surgical suites with the latest technology for cardiac care.
Trinity Mother Frances opens the first Level IIIA Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Tyler, offering close-to-home advanced live-saving medical care to at-risk infants.
TMF opens Phase One of the Louis & Peaches Owen Heart Hospital, the first and only freestanding heart hospital in the region.
TMF breaks ground on the region's first freestanding heart hospital, Phase Two of The Louis & Peaches Owen Heart Hospital.
TMF begins implementing a new system-wide Electronic Health Record System, ConnectCARE, which offers seamless access to information, enhancing efficiency as well as patient safety and convenience.