University Medical Center celebrating 106 year of service to El Paso region

Exactly 106 years ago, on January 26, the hospital known today by the borderland as University Medical Center of El Paso, was born and hospital officials are sharing highlights of the last century plus of service.

“Through the last century, UMC has healed many millions – yes, millions –  of El Pasoans, and continues to provide an ever evolving and improving high standard of care,” hospital officials shared via a news release.

While tens of thousands of El Pasoans worked in the hospital over those years, the current healthcare workforce at UMC, along with partners from El Paso Children’s Hospital and Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso, now care for patients during the second pandemic in the hospital’s history.

“UMC has vaccinated more El Pasoans than any other organization and will continue to do so as the current pandemic continues,” hospital officials added.

Pictured on the history wall on the first floor of UMC is one of the early forefathers of healthcare in the El Paso region: Dr. Mariano Samaniego.

Hospital officials say Dr. Samaniego played an important role in the development of community healthcare; he received his medical education from the School of Medicine at the University of Paris, France, where he defended his thesis in 1859.  One of his teachers had been the surgeon of Emperor Napoleon III.

Dr. Samaniego returned to El Paso as one of the few formally trained physicians in El Paso/Juarez, setting the stage for the Samaniegos to become a family of service. One of his sons became a physician, one of his great great grandsons was an El Paso County Sheriff, and another of his great great grandsons is El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego.

Below are some of the key dates in the history of University Medical Center of El Paso:

· 1915: The 100-bed El Paso County General Hospital opened at 4815 Alameda. Most of the hospital’s medical staff was voluntary.

· 1928: The hospital’s first internship program provided postgraduate training for physicians.

· 1935: El Paso County General Hospital is expanded to 204 beds and equipped with an operating room and sterilization equipment.

· 1941: An 88 bed tuberculosis ward was built on the hospital grounds.

· 1959: With the creation of the El Paso County Hospital District through the approval of local voters, funding for a new hospital becomes possible. The plans for the hospital were based on the Friesen design concepts to improve efficiency, which earned the new institution the “Modern Hospital of the Month” award based on “architectural design.”

· 1961: At the groundbreaking ceremony for the R.E. Thomason General Hospital, Robert Ewing Thomason declared, “As I throw this first spade of dirt, it is my hope and prayer that the fine, modern hospital to be erected on this site will stand for many years to minister to the sick and suffering in El Paso and the Southwest.”

· 1963: The new, 335-bed R.E. Thomason General Hospital, built by R.E. McKee General Contractor , Inc., opened.

· 1965: At the ceremony to dedicate the newly constructed hospital that bore his name, hundreds in attendance quieted as Judge Thomason, speaking with emotion, declared it to be “the greatest honor ever to come to me.”

· 1973: R.E. Thomason General Hospital was designated the primary teaching hospital of the Texas Tech University Health Science Center.

· 1975: R.E. Thomason General Hospital achieved accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals (JCAHO).

· 1983: The hospital underwent a $35 million dollar renovation and expansion project to improve its emergency department and pediatric intensive care unit.

· 1986: R.E. Thomason’s General Hospital was designated a Level Trauma I Center. El Paso’s first hospital heliport was added.

· 1998: R.E. Thomason General Hospital is named one of America’s Top 100 hospital for the second time.

· 2001: The hospital is designated a Level 1 Trauma Center – the dawn of UMC’s Scherr Legate Level 1 Trauma Center, the only Level 1 trauma center in a 270-mile radius of El Paso. Level

· 2002: Thomason Hospital adopted the CARE values of Community, Accountability, Respect, and Excellence. These values continue to serve as a standard of care throughout the organization today.

· 2009: The name of El Paso’s only not-for-profit public hospital was officially changed from R.E. Thomason General to University Medical Center of El Paso.

· 2011: University Medical Center completed a $154 million dollar expansion and remodeling of its Emergency Department that featured specialized units for neurology and cardiology.

· 2011: UMC was awarded the President’s Award by the National Association of Public Hospitals, the highest honor NAPH bestows on its member hospitals. NAPH President, Larry Gage wrote that the award was “in honor of the extraordinary transformation UMC has made in recent years, especially in the area of innovation, community partnerships and medical excellence.”

· 2017: UMC is designated by the Joint Commission, the nation’s highest standard for medical accreditation, as a Comprehensive Stroke Center. UMC was also designated by the State of Texas as a Level 1 Stroke Center. A first for El Paso.

· 2018: UMC becomes the first and only Level 4 Maternal Care hospital in El Paso. This is the highest designation possible for maternal care.

· 2019: UMC is one of two hospitals in El Paso to care for victims of the Aug. 3 shooting that killed 23 El Pasoans. UMC’s expertise in trauma care ensured all of the victims who arrived at the hospital alive on that day survived and are with us today. UMC treated the most shooting victims resulting from that day’s tragedy.

· 2020: UMC introduces its first new emergency departments in more than a century. The state-of-the art emergency departments, located in east and west El Paso are equipped with the latest medical equipment and technology available, serving more than 300,000 people.

· 2020-2021: UMC becomes the foremost hospital in El Paso to provide vaccinations for the El Paso community in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; the largest public health crisis since the pandemic of 1917, when the hospital was only two years old.