Writing Team members

(Left to Right) Janet Helduser, M.A., James Alexander, Ph.D., Nancy Kinkler, M.P.A., FACHE

Faculty and staff from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health in partnership with the East Texas Medical Center (ETMC) Foundation have written, First in East Texas: the history and legacy of the East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System.

The research for the 223-page volume chronicling the 63-year old medical system included more than 90 oral history interviews.

“In 2011, we joyfully recognized the 60th anniversary of the ETMC system throughout East Texas,” said Elmer G. Ellis, president/CEO of the ETMC Regional Healthcare System and executive editor of the book. “That time of reflection led me to consider the fact that we were losing many of the men and women who founded and fostered our healthcare organization with such a spirit of service and dedication to others.”

James Alexander, Ph.D., associate professor at the Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health and one of the authors of the book, said that he and others at the school were eager to take on the assignment.

“I recall that by the year 2000, it had become clear to most in the healthcare industry – including academicians involved in rural health – that ETMC had developed an enviable model for a true rural health network, consisting of a large tertiary hospital and numerous regional hospitals,” he said. “This highly integrated system became an important teaching model in our master of health administration curriculum at Texas A&M.”

Janet Helduser, M.A, senior project coordinator at the school and also an author, added “Each person who provided an oral history interview had a unique story to tell, and it was exciting to hear their enthusiasm for this project as they relayed the impact of ETMC in their life and community.”

The book begins in the late 1940s as community leaders in Tyler considered the need for a hospital that would help serve the entire East Texas region. Their dream was realized in September 1951, with the opening of Medical Center Hospital (now ETMC Tyler). The book then covers early leadership, growth of the Tyler facility and the emerging opportunities for regional growth through hospital affiliations. It profiles ETMC’s major service areas from emergency/trauma medicine to cardiac, cancer, neurology and other areas of clinical excellence to rehabilitation. The book also covers the team of ETMC employees, physicians and volunteers, the corporate structure and a timeline beginning in 1947.

In addition to Dr. Alexander and Ms. Helduser, Nancy Kinkler, M.P.A., FACHE from the school and Marty Wiggins, FACHE, director of the ETMC Foundation also served on the writing team. Nick Edwardson, assistant director of the Center for Health Organization and Transformation from the school served as graphic designer.

To obtain a copy of First in East Texas, visit ETMC.org

— Rae Lynn Mitchell

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