The debut of Medicare was less than six months away, a gallon of gas cost 32 cents, the average home price in the United States was $14,200 and Houston’s Interstate 610 was years from becoming “The Loop” when Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital opened its doors for the first time in January 1966.Now 50 years young, the hospital continues to serve the Greater Heights communities and will celebrate its golden anniversary throughout the year with expanded healthcare services, facility enhancements and a host of community and employee events.
“We are so proud to have provided people with quality healthcare for the last 50 years,” said Sr. Vice President and CEO of Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Susan Jadlowski. “We’ve grown with the community generation after generation and we are excited about our growth now and for the years to come.”
Primary care physician Tara Shani, M.D., who began working at the hospital in 1980, has seen the growth of Memorial Hermann Greater Heights on multiple levels.
“I still treat families which have evolved into a third generation: grandparents, parents and now their children,” Dr. Shani said.
Physicians have grown at the hospital as well, including Dr. Shani’s son, orthopedic surgeon Raj Shani, M.D., who used to attend rounds with his mother as a child. The Shanis are one of four families with two generations of physicians concurrently affiliated with the hospital.
“It’s a proud moment for me to see my son working in the same place where I started,” Dr. Tara Shani said. “Maybe my grandchildren will be physicians here one day.”
The growth of Memorial Hermann Greater Heights was planned for. The hospital was part of what became a pioneering movement in healthcare and was strategically placed to make it easily accessible—even before the city’s greatest thoroughfare was finished.
Though there are now more than 3,000 system hospitals nationwide, Memorial Baptist Hospital created the country’s first satellite hospital system in 1962. Four years later, Memorial Hermann Greater Heights, then known as Memorial Northwest Hospital, joined what are now Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital and Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital as part of that system.
Hospital administrator Wilson Turner designed the satellite system to meet the healthcare needs of the city’s projected growing population. Turner wanted to provide the city’s outlying areas access to quality hospitals that would funnel patients and physicians to an anchor facility for elevated care if needed.
Family medicine physician Gerald Maness, M.D. served on the development committee that chose the hospital’s location on Ella Blvd. with Turner and Albert “Bill” Jester, M.D. – the son of historic Houston civic leader T.C. Jester.
“We had knowledge that the freeway was going through that area,” said Dr. Maness, who oversaw primary care for a number of years at the hospital and served as its Chief of Staff in 1979.
The I-610 freeway was eventually finished with exits at Ella Blvd. that led directly to the hospital’s entrance to provide convenient access from areas in and around the city.
“The hospital did so well that they had to expand. So they tore down the old hospital and began building what you see now,” Dr. Maness said.
In 1971, the hospital increased capacity to 220 beds, making it the largest hospital in northwest Houston. The facility changed its name to Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital upon the merger of Memorial Healthcare System and Hermann Hospital in November 1997.
Last October, the hospital was renamed Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital to better reflect the growth and evolution of the areas it serves.
A two-story, 130-bed, brick hospital with a complete laboratory, x-ray, emergency, operating and delivery facilities when it first opened five decades ago, Memorial Hermann Greater Heights is now a 260-bed hospital with 1,200 employees, multiple professional buildings, patient towers and a LifeFlight® helipad.
Memorial Hermann Greater Heights admits more than 11,000 patients and provides care for approximately 60,000 emergency department visits each year. Currently, more than 500 affiliated physicians provide vast medical specialty service to the campus, which is home to nationally-recognized programs in heart and vascular care, cancer screening and treatment, total joint replacement, top tier rehabilitation, as well as women’s care and a Level III Trauma emergency center.
A commitment to additional service line and campus enhancements, including a new entrance renovation, as well as a planned Memorial Hermann Urgent Care Center and Memorial Hermann Convenient Care Center, will carry on the hospital’s long-standing position as a healthcare leader in the Greater Heights.
“We have been and will continue to be here for Houston and the Greater Heights,” Jadlowski said. “We understand the history of this hospital and this area and we take great pride in carrying on the legacy of this campus.”