HOUSTON (May 18, 2011)

What a difference a few decades makes. In just 40 years, what was once a one-story general hospital has grown into a multi-building medical center. Back in 1971, fewer than 50 nurses tended to patients occupying 100 semi-private beds. Today, more than 700 nurses, and 1,800 total employees, watch over 426 fully-private beds.

And, in the early 70's, a small handful of physicians treated the ill. Today, nearly 1,000 board-certified physicians representing more than 100 sub-specialties are doing the same.

In 1971, it was called Memorial City General Hospital. In 2008, it became Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center.No matter what you call it, the bottom line is this: top-quality care in the epicenter of Houston's metropolis with top-of-the-line convenience.Or, as Chief Executive Officer Keith Alexander likes to say, Memorial Hermann Memorial City is the medical center outside of the [Texas] medical center.

"People receive the same level of quality care right here in their own backyard," Alexander said.

The latest achievement for the medical center is its April 2011 opening of a $12 million, 24,000-square foot comprehensive Cancer Center.

Alexander notes that Memorial Hermann Memorial City diagnoses more cancer than any other hospital in the Memorial Hermann system. Given this fact and the tremendous growth in population in West Houston, a comprehensive center is certainly something that will benefit the community.

Patients diagnosed with cancer no longer have to drive from building to building as they go from diagnosis to treatment to after-care. Everything is now under one roof.The Cancer Center, accredited and commended by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, offers the latest in technology, including the newest version of a highly-sophisticated linear accelerator - the first of its kind in Texas.

Alexander, who began with Memorial Hermann Memorial City as Chief Operating Officer in 2007 and became CEO in 2009, has also overseen construction of an impressive 33-story tower that added an additional 1-million square feet of space to the ever-growing campus. The Tower is now home to Women's Memorial Hermann and Children's Memorial Hermann.

The same year Alexander came on board, the Bobetta Lindig Breast Center opened, offering the latest in digital mammography. Today, the center offers tomosynthesis, a new cutting-edge 3-D technology that improves physicians' ability to detect smaller tumors at the earliest stages of breast cancer. Memorial Hermann Memorial City is one of just four locations in Houston offering this technology to its patients.

The medical center also provides the newest generation of the da Vinci robotic surgical system, currently used to perform minimally-invasive surgeries relating to cardiovascular, gynecological, kidney and prostate health.

Urologist Dr. David Mobley said he's seen the death rate of prostate cancer decline from 75 percent to less than 15 percent since he began treating patients at Memorial City in 1973.

Although technology wasn't as sophisticated then as it is now, a tight-knit group of doctors worked diligently with what they had."Even though we were small, we were mighty," said Dr. Mobley of the approximately 40 doctors on staff at the time. "From day one, we've had a very strong medical staff." That includes nursing.

Maryellen McGlothlin, nurse turned administrative director, joined the hospital back in 1979, when the very idea of day-surgery seemed an impossibility.But McGlothlin was there when the Outpatient Surgery Center opened in 1996.Perhaps a more-telling tribute to Memorial Hermann Memorial City is the fact that McGlothin's own two children - and five nieces - have been born there."Even though we are a medical center now, we still have that same sense of family," McGlothlin said. "Memorial City is a unique and very special place."

Not to mention effective.In 2010, Memorial Hermann Memorial City received "Magnet" designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, an organization that identifies outstanding excellence in nursing and nursing care."It's a huge honor," McGlothlin said. "Everyone worked hard for it."The devotion and dedication displayed by Dr. Mobley and McGlothlin is one reason Obstetrician/Gynecologist Dr. Erica Roberts joined Memorial Hermann Memorial City as an affiliated physician in 2008."

Coming out (of residency) in your last year, you're interviewing and hearing that most doctors will be at their first location for maybe two years," said Dr. Roberts, who earned her medical degree at UTHealth. "But I wanted to find a place I liked, enjoyed, and didn't want to leave. I'm excited to say I'm not in that percentage of people who leave their first job within two years."

Dr. Roberts utilizes all aspects of Women's Memorial Hermann at Memorial City, and is appreciative of the fact that, if needed, a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the highest level of care for babies born as early as 26 weeks gestation, is right there in the same building. "We have the experience, diversity and resources of the Texas Medical Center, but it's not as crowded and congested," Dr. Roberts said. "It's easy for patients to get here. I like that because patients don't have to choose between care and convenience."

Memorial Hermann Memorial City has been and continues to be an award-winning medical center.Most recently, Memorial Hermann Memorial City received a Midas Platinum Award.

"The Midas award is a great honor," Alexander said. "It compared us to nearly 600 hospitals across the nation already known to be high-quality medical centers. In terms of benchmarking, Memorial City ranks above the 95th percentile - truly positioning our hospital among the best of the best."The hospital has forged a strategic alliance with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston - a relationship that provides physician support, clinical trials and research initiatives, complementing Memorial Hermann Memorial City's expertise in several pediatric sub-specialties, including cardiology, orthopedics and neurology, and puts the hospital in the academic medical center niche.

Clearly, Memorial City's growth has been tremendous over the last 40 years, a success that Alexander believes is borne from looking to the future while building on the past.

"This campus has grown into a large and substantial medical center," Alexander said. "We're achieving our dream, our vision."

Time line:

Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center today: