what the doctors ordered
TCU grads, inexperience and blind ambition became a potent prescription
for a lasting legacy.
Rachel Stowe Master '91
hard to believe there's room for any naivete among a half-dozen physicians -- five
of whom are TCU grads, no less -- the word often comes up when Drs. Martha
J. Chapman '50, Robert E. Chapman '50, Bruce K. Jacobson '50, David J.
Pillow Sr. '49 and Charles A. Rush Jr. '49 talk about founding Glenview
Hospital in North Richland Hills 40 years ago.
thinking then of building legacies. They were simply trying to shorten
we'd have patients in four different hospitals and our office was out
here -- about 12 to 15 miles away from downtown Fort Worth," Jacobson said.
In addition to morning and evening rounds, the doctors were often called
back downtown during the day for patients in labor. "So we were spending
a lot of time in our cars."
politicked for the community to build a small general hospital. But no
one was interested. "Hospitals usually operated in the red and they didn't
want to extend themselves out and try to build a hospital," Jacobson said.
"So we decided we could do it. We thought."
A HOSPITAL wasn't the first challenge the group endured together. The
Chapmans (who married just before becoming Horned Frogs), Jacobson, Pillow
and Rush all completed their pre-med undergraduate work at TCU.
Jacobson and I worked together, studied together, played together -- and
tried to make good grades together," Rush recalled. Pillow and Rush were
a year ahead of Jacobson at TCU, but all three worked for Dr. May Owen
at All Saints Hospital.
didn't become well-acquainted with the Chapmans until after med school.
Pillow attended George Washington University, Rush and Jacobson both went
to Baylor, and the Chapmans were the first to be accepted as a "couple"
at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "It kind of made
us feel uncomfortable that they were going to see how we did. There wasn't
any pressure on us," Bob Chapman said with a laugh.
hooked up again at John Peter Smith Hospital when Jacobson and the Chapmans
were interns and Pillow and Rush were residents.
Rush went into practice together in North Richland Hills, and Jacobson
joined them a year later. The Chapmans opened their own practice, first
in Nocona and soon back in Tarrant County.
became acquainted with Dr. John Jermyn, another local family practice
physician, when they began lobbying for a community hospital.
tried to get several of the municipalities in the area to build a hospital,"
Bob Chapman recalled. "They had just formed the district for JPS, and
none of them thought they could form another taxing district. After a
couple of years no one seemed interested, so the six of us got together
and decided to try to get funding together to build one."
didn't want to own a hospital," Rush said. "We just wanted one to practice
in, but the only way to get it was to build it ourselves."
In the early
'60s, doctors building hospitals wasn't uncommon.
"In a lot
of small towns, individual doctors would build small hospitals," Pillow
noted. "So in that sense it wasn't unusual, but we were building a full-scale
money to run a hospital, and we didn't have any money," Jacobson said.
with nothing but debt," Pillow said.
bought a 5.4-acre tract of land on credit. A Houston firm agreed to build
the hospital and lease it back.
"We had to
put up the money for it, which amounted to each of us having a $120,000
life insurance policy on us," Bob Chapman said.
the insurance representative talking about what amounted to an almost
million-dollar policy to guarantee the loan. The representative told the
six doctors that in 10 years, one of them wouldn't be there. The doctors
didn't believe him, but just a few years later, Jermyn died of a viral
infection of the heart muscle.
building was up, money was still needed for equipment. A large medical
supply company finally agreed to equip the hospital -- again on credit. The
last of the equipment came in about two days before the opening.
was an ongoing concern.
"We had a
$100,000-a-month payroll, and we worried every month whether or not we
could meet it," Rush said. "We had to get some source of financial stability.
The president of the Bank of Commerce gave us a line of credit, and from
then on we felt safe -- at least then we knew we could meet payroll."
everything that came out of the hospital went right back into it.
a hospital was kind of month by month," Pillow said. "Prices were a lot
different back then. Whatever we got, we paid out at the end of the month.
Back in the earlier days, physicians owning a hospital didn't take anything
out of it. It was just a place to work."
also concerns of supply and demand.
thing, I think, is not knowing whether our patients would be willing to
use a community hospital that we built," Jacobson said. "Would our patients
feel safe there or would they still demand going to the larger downtown
hospitals? It turned out not to be a problem, but we didn't know."
success of it was running at 60 percent capacity at the first two weeks
and 80 percent at the first month," Bob Chapman said. "That's considered
break-even. When it hit the ground it was running and going and never
looked back. It was soon obvious 50 beds were not enough. I can still
remember having beds in the hallway at even 100 beds. There were no freeways
out here and no one liked to drive to downtown Fort Worth."
performed the first surgery the night before the hospital officially opened.
a young man who had appendicitis, and I thought it would be a shame to
take him downtown when we had the facility ready," she said.
When it opened
in 1961, the 20,000-square-foot facility offered complete X-ray and laboratory
facilities, a 24-hour emergency room, and TVs and phones in patient rooms.
Room rates were $7.50 a day. Glenview's 15 doctors, 70 nurses and technicians,
and 42 volunteers treated more than 5,100 in-house patients, served more
than 3,000 ER cases and delivered 494 babies (including two sets of twins).
Only a year
after opening, Glenview received a full three-year accreditation by the
Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals. And it became the first
Fort Worth/Dallas hospital with its own heliport. "Even before Harris
had one," Bob Chapman said, noting that Bell Helicopter used it to bring
injured workers from its factory. "After we got a little bigger, we could
get helicopter service to downtown."
served as Glenview Hospital's first chief of staff. "I was railroaded
into it," he quipped.
sure, but I just think everyone came to that conclusion at the very beginning
so it just worked out that way," added Martha Chapman, who later became
the hospital's only female chief of staff.
of us served our turn as chief of staff," Rush said. "There was one a
year. And there were lots of other jobs too. We had all the amenities
of a big hospital, and we ran it very strictly. And I think that's why
it was such a success."
agree that they were very fortunate to land a retiring Air Force lieutenant
colonel as hospital administrator. William Cotner served as Glenview's
administrator from 1961 to 1981.
that was a gamble for him," Jacobson said. "We didn't have any money,
but we had a dream. He managed the hospital on a day-by-day basis so we
didn't have to get into hospital management. Our business was to practice
bought the hospital from the leasing firm after a couple of years. In
1969 they sold the hospital to a California company.
hospital, after we developed it and got into it, really wasn't big enough
to handle the growth rate of this part of town," Pillow said, explaining
that selling it to a larger entity would pave the way for additional expansions.
"And it was a lot easier to take the liability of the hospital off our
" But the
doctors weren't finished just yet. A few years later, Glenview's buyer
was purchased and wanted out of the hospital business. "Then 26 of us
went together and bought it," Bob Chapman said. The group included the
Chapmans, Pillow and Rush.
sold again in 1977.
out it wasn't too bad when you had six doctors to get together, but when
you had 26, it was almost impossible," Martha Chapman said.
Corporation of America (HCA) bought the facility in 1981. In a multimillion-dollar
expansion in 1983, HCA renamed, rebuilt and relocated the hospital within
a mile of the original facility.
after the opening of Glenview Hospital, the 200,000-square-foot, 144-bed
North Hills Hospital is North Richland Hills' largest employer, with some
430 medical staff members, 730 employees and 120 volunteers, officials
report. The hospital is on track this year for 44,000 admissions and outpatient
procedures, more than 35,700 ER visits and 1,000-plus babies. Its 2000
community financial benefit -- sponsorships, taxes, salaries, charity care -- totaled
a whopping $145 million. And change.
dreamed it would work into what it is at present," Bob Chapman said. "Our
wildest dreams were not even close to that."
success -- during times when the industry has seen many medical giants fall
to their knees -- the founders remain modest about their contributions.
long hours, from early morning until late at night. But I don't think
I could do that anymore," said Rush, who turned 79 in October and still
works three mornings a week. (He's also the official physician of the
Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo.) "It took a lot of hard work on a lot of
people's part, and the doctors were just the catalyst for it. The people
were behind it, and for that we thank them all -- and we're glad they're
having their 40th year celebration."
about doing things one day at a time," Jacobson said. "You look ahead,
but you don't look back much. I really never thought of it as a great
visionary thing that came true. We just worked -- and it happened. It was
a thought, there was action and then it happened, and that's the way it
went. We were working awful hard back in those days."
is there anything these TCU grads would have done differently?
Pillow said. "We were young and broke and naive, and we wanted a place
to practice good medicine out here and take care of our local citizens.
We weren't smart enough to know we couldn't do that. It's kind of nice,
but when you don't have anything, you can't lose anything.
was not that big of a deal when you think about it that way."
Stowe Master '91 and husband Kevin '91 (MBA) live in Northeast Tarrant
County with their two sons.