Why “Baylor” Hospital is in Dallas and not Waco. And why it was almost called Slaughter Hospital

Why is Baylor Hospital in Dallas and not Waco? What’s the affiliation between the two?  DW

Currently there’s little to no affiliation between the university in Waco and the hospital in Dallas. As for why Baylor (the Hospital) is called Baylor and why it’s in Dallas not Waco; well you have to go back to its Baptists heritage with its cattle baron and unfortunately named founder.  Oh and George Washington and Christopher Columbus also have a role.

Baylor, or Baylor University Medical Center as it’s known today, has its origins in Dallas in the early 1900’s. It’s the result of two efforts from the first decade of the 20th century coming together. The first was led by the Reverend George W. Truett (George Washington Turret that is). He was the leader of the Baptists he in town and was pushing hard for them to support a hospital for Dallas’s growing population.

GWTRUETT

A young and intense G.W. seen above

They initially took over a small hospital named “The Good Samaritan” in 1903 that was housed in a small two-story brick home. But seeing as how Dallas’ population in 1900 was over 40,000; the simple two-story house/hospital (along with similar sized hospitals at Parkland and St. Paul) provided completely inadequate health care for the needs of the town.

So Truett kept pushing his Baptists to pony up and build a proper hospital. One such Baptists, a very wealthy cattle-baron Baptist ended up donating tens of thousands of dollars, (millions in today’s money), and almost completely funded the efforts to build a 250 bed hospital in a proper building located generally where Baylor is today.

groundbreakingThe ground breaking ceremony for Baylor in 1903.

At the time there was some thought to naming the hospital after him. After all he had just almost single-handedly built the place. And we Dallasites are fond of naming bridges, buildings and roads after people who donate the money to build them. However, though this wealthy Baptists had a name that was great for being a cattle baron, it was extremely, extremely bad for a hospital. Slaughter. His name was C.C. Slaughter.  And he was literally one of the wealthiest men in America.

CC_Salughter

The C.C. stood for Christopher Columbus

There are very very few names that would have been worse for the hospital to be named after, including Frank Murder, Bill Death, and Susan Give-up-all-hope-of-living-and-just-die-already. Anyways smart men prevailed and the new hospital was named the Texas Baptist Memorial Sanitarium. Which come to think of it, is only slightly better than Slaughter Hospital.

Now the second effort that was going on the in earlier 20th century was a medical school started by C. M. Rosser in Dallas. Doctor Rosser had started his school around the same time that Truett was building the new hospital, and he was a Baptist.

Rosser_FINALC. M. stood for Charles McDaniel,  sadly his parents did not believe in naming their son after famous people.

So the pariing of Trueets hospital and Rosser’s med school was a natural fit in the beginning.  And Rosser, a graduate of Baylor for his undergraduate studies, reached out to Baylor to see about using the name and establishing a partnership. Baylor at the time did not have a medical school. And Waco, lacked the patients, the medical and nursing students, and frankly the financial and technological ability to support a medical school. So Baylor and Rosser established a partnership that included naming his medical school, the Baylor College of Medicine.

And for the better part of three decades the Texas Baptist Memorial Sanatorium and the Baylor School of Medicine and Baylor University  all co-existed.  The Hospital even changed it’s name to Baylor Hospital in 1921. But that peaceful co-existence did not last. Beginning in the 1930’s the medical school ran into problems. The hospital was doing fine, even adding new wings and capacity. But the medical school was suffering problems, which depending on who you asked stemmed from different sources. The school was suffering financially, which leaders of the school chalked up almost entirely to the great depression. But some leaders in the hospital and some Dallas civic leaders believed the problem wasn’t merely the depression.

In short the problem was not the affiliation and partnership with Baylor University or Baptist in general, but rather a heavy reliance on the Baptists and a refusal to consider medical science that conservative Baptists found immoral. Or let me put it this way. If you try to run a top flight medical school while completely refusing to even consider evolution as a possibility, you might have problems.

Operating_TheaterAn “operating theater” from Baylor in the 1920’s.  Highly advanced.

Either way, the school, facing financial issues and um, possible philosophical issues, began looking for a new city to locate in. Their decision was made pretty easy after a foundation in Houston offered bookoos of money for them to move to there. The hospital stayed however, pretty hard to a seven story tall building after all. Along with the hospital many of the doctors and professors from the old med school stayed. The name of the hospital was changed to Baylor University Medical Center, and it has continued at a top flight hospital and teaching hospital since.

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One thought on “Why “Baylor” Hospital is in Dallas and not Waco. And why it was almost called Slaughter Hospital

  1. Thanks for the insight!!! Your timing was very interesting on this article, as Col. CC’s great-great-great-great grandson was born at Baylor hospital one month after this was posted!!

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