It’s been a long time coming, but the Charles A. Sammons Trauma and Critical Care Tower officially opened Thursday, July 24, with balloons, boldfacers and the best emergency facility south of the Trinity.
With a ladder extended from a Dallas fire truck out front, guests were greeted at the East Colorado entrance with a jazz band and escorted to elevators to the sixth floor. While the top floor is still in raw condition, it was totally decked out for the dedication with banner, food, and ceiling netted with blue-and-white balloons. And the views were nothing to scoff at. Time and again, guests commented how the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge was the perfect backdrop for the new facility that has been recognized as one of three adult Level Two trauma center status. With the opening of the tower, Level One status is just around the corner.
Methodist Dallas Medical Center President Laura Irvine told the SRO crowd, “For the first time, I can mention that the American College of Surgeons will be recommending approval of our designation as a Level 1 trauma center.”
The event commenced taking on more of a pep rally with smiles and applause non-stop.
Methodist Healthy System Board Chair Levi H. Davis summed it up, saying, “This is an awesome day!” He also reminded the business leaders in the audience that Methodist is the largest employer in Oak Cliff, with 3,900+ “lifesavers” on staff.
Adding to that hoorah was City Councilman Scott Griggs, who evidently doesn’t believe in understatement. He announced, “This is the best [healthcare] facility not only in Dallas and Texas but in the whole world. You are definitely world class!”
Following a video, Chris Kleinert, who chaired the BrightER Capital Campaign, told the crowd, which included Methodist Health System President Steve Mansfield, SMU President Gerald Turner, former Dallas City Manager George Schrader, Dallas County Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia, Dallas Fire-Rescue Chief Louise Bright III, Carol Seay, Nancy Bierman and Chris’ adoring wife, Ashlee Kleinert, that he was a bit nervous about the day. When Methodist Health System Foundation President/CEO April Box Chamberlain first invited him to tour Methodist, he had never been there before. It became apparent that the hospital was outdated, outmoded and overcrowded. Seeing the immediate need and the future of the area, he signed on to raise more than $20M. That was 29 months ago. One of the first things Chris did, besides telling Ashlee of the ginormous undertaking, was to draft his in-laws, Nancy Ann and Ray Hunt, as honorary co-chairs. Then he and the Methodist team went about raising the money. Instead of pounding his chest over this amazing accomplishment, Chris turned the tables and attributed the success story to the donors, staff and city officials.
Chris then introduced Nancy Ann and Ray. According to Nancy Ann, the couple who will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary next year, didn’t know they were to speak.
Ray praised the people on the capital-campaign committee and said they were Dallas’ future leaders. “They took time to volunteer for something that is really, really important. . . . That’s what has made Dallas great [over the years]. It makes you feel very optimistic about the future of Dallas.”
He scoffed at the idea that Nancy Ann and he had done more than serve as “cheerleaders” for the project. Then Ray reminded the assembled group that “Dallas has no reason to exist.” And except for leaders like these — Mayors Bob Folsom and Erik Jonsson and former City Manager George Schrader — “the city wouldn’t exist as it is today.”
Then the event’s closer was Nancy Ann. The shy little blonde rose to the occasion by saying without hesitation, “This is a game-changer for Dallas.” She said Methodist has always been a light shining bright, but no one recognized it. Then she added: “As Chris said, today it is a neon light!”
As the Hunts stepped down from the stage to take their seats, all in the room rose to give them a standing O.
Immediately, the staff, committee and key leaders rolled out a “never-ending blue ribbon” with Methodist printed in white. As they held the ribbon around the perimeter of the room, a “virtual ribbon cutting” commenced followed by a drop of hundreds of blue and white balloons.
For Methodist Health System PR pro Kathleen Beathard, it was a poignant occasion. Come August, she’ll be heading to a job in North Dallas. But before leaving, she’s tackling one last challenge. It seems that when you type in the Dallas’s campus address —1441 North Beckley — on the Apple map locator, the iPhone geniuses send you up to North Dallas. Don’t make that mistake. Just look across the Trinity for the tallest building atop a hill and head for it. That’s Methodist, the tallest and newest addition to North Texas’ stellar collection of trauma centers.