On September 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy gave one of his most famous speeches and spurred the United States toward one of our most decisive endeavors in history.
In his address that day, Kennedy outlined plans to greatly expand our space program. He told the audience we would lead the race for space and put a man on the moon before the end of the decade – a feat that would test the limits of human ingenuity and scientific innovation like nothing before.
Needless to say, his vision became reality – seven years later, we put a man on the moon. Since then, we’ve sent satellites to the far reaches of the galaxy and beyond. Most recently, we landed rovers on the surface of Mars. And it began right here in Houston – an ambitious pursuit of a mission fulfilled by the pioneering spirit of our city’s people.
If you look out from Taussig Auditorium in our beautiful new Texas Children’s Heart Center on the 16th floor of Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower, you can see Rice Stadium just a few blocks to the north – the place where President Kennedy gave his aspirational speech that day and called the people of Houston to action. It gives me chills to think about it. And it’s impossible for me to think about that incredible moment in history and not draw a parallel to another historic day when the people of Houston saw a bold vision through to reality.
It was February 1, 1954 – the day Texas Children’s Hospital first opened its doors.
That was 65 years ago today. It might seem like a long time ago, but when you consider that the nation’s other top hospitals have been around for 130-plus years, it’s pretty astounding to think about what we’ve accomplished … in half the time.
We opened with a single three-story building, housing 106 patient beds. We had 4,558 encounters that first year. Today, our hospitals house 959 patient beds, and we’re the largest and most comprehensive pediatric and women’s health care organization in the nation. Between Houston, Austin and College Station, we’re providing care in more than 90 locations, including Texas Children’s Pediatrics, Urgent Care and OB/Gyn practices, Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinics, Texas Children’s Specialty Care Clinics, and The Centers for Children and Women. And we had more than 4.3 million patient encounters across the Texas Children’s system in 2018.
In only 65 years, we’ve been the first to achieve some of the most astonishing breakthroughs in pediatric health care. As I think of our milestones and achievements, I am filled with immense pride. I feel humbled and honored to share in the legacy of Texas Children’s and to be a part of history with all of you. It’s our one amazing team that makes these miracles happen every day.
So celebrate and make a big, bold wish for Texas Children’s today … we’ve proven we can achieve anything we imagine.
Happy 65th birthday Texas Children’s!
Click here to watch a video highlighting our accomplishments over the past six plus decades.