History of University Health System
(Pictured right: The Robert B. Green Memorial Hospital opens its doors to serve as a charity and teaching hospital in 1917.)
Our story begins in 1917 with the opening of the Robert B. Green Memorial Hospital — named for a crusading county judge and state senator. San Antonio was booming — the largest city in Texas at the time, and still growing with thousands of troops massing at the start of World War I, and thousands of refugees fleeing the Mexican Revolution. A charity hospital was needed, and the city and county each contributed half the $250,000 required to build it. The hospital opened just in time to care for victims of the influenza epidemic of 1918. Over the next several decades, the Robert B. Green hospital filled an enormous need, but inconsistent funding threatened its mission and resulted in intermittent closures of many of its programs. With a commitment to care for everyone, regardless of their ability to pay, Bexar County voters overwhelmingly approved the creation of the Bexar County Hospital District and a tax on property to fund it in 1955, making it one of the first hospital districts in Texas and stabilizing the Green’s finances. Bexar County Commissioners appointed its first Board of Managers.
With the creation of the hospital district, new programs were undertaken. In 1965, a $5 million expansion of the Green was dedicated, followed in 1977 by the addition of the Brady Clinic adjacent to the Green. These facilities formed the Brady/Green Community Health Center in 1981. In the early years of the hospital district, it was clear that a new teaching hospital was necessary to attract a medical school to San Antonio. In December 1965, ground was broken for the $15 million Bexar County Hospital in the South Texas Medical Center. Construction of the University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio — now called UT Health San Antonio — began soon after. The medical school and Bexar County Hospital were both completed in 1968, affirming the Health System's role in teaching future generations of healthcare professionals.
In 1994, the Bexar County Hospital District began doing business as University Health System and the Bexar County Hospital became University Hospital to create a stronger public association with its academic mission. At the same time, the Hospital District begins to expand into the community, with new neighborhood health centers providing family doctors and outpatient care close to where people live. In 1999, on the site of the former Lutheran General Hospital on South Zarzamora Street, surrounded by neighborhoods with some of the highest diabetes rates in the nation, University Health System opened the Texas Diabetes Institute — a one-stop center for diabetes care, prevention and discovery, where some of the leading diabetes researchers in the nation work to find new and better ways to treat the disease and make those discoveries available to patients.
University Health System today includes more than two dozen locations. University Hospital still serves as the primary teaching facility for UT Health San Antonio and is the premiere Level I trauma center for South Texas and the region’s only pediatric Level I trauma center. University Hospital is also home to the highest level neonatal intensive care unit and the region’s only Joint Commission accredited Comprehensive Stroke Center. With the completion of the million-square-foot Sky Tower in 2014, University Hospital today offers advanced care for children and adults in one of the most beautiful and technologically advanced hospitals in the country.
The historic Robert B. Green Memorial Hospital still stands today and is part of the Health System’s Robert B. Green Campus, a multi-specialty outpatient center that offers comprehensive health services including outpatient surgery, walk-in urgent care and advanced imaging services. With the completion of a beautiful six-story clinical pavilion in 2013, the downtown area now has access to San Antonio's largest outpatient center, staffed by more than 100 primary and specialty care physicians for both adults and children.
In 2017, University Health System — today a nationally recognized academic health system and network of more than two dozen primary care, specialty, preventive and school-based health centers — celebrates a century of service to the people of Bexar County and South Texas.
As we look ahead to the next 100 years, our vision is to be the trusted first choice in healthcare for Bexar County, South Texas and beyond. Thinking beyond medicine, we remain committed to healing, advancing knowledge and discovery, and promoting the good health of the community. And above all, we strive to be compassionate professionals, fostering a culture of health excellence for our community, and treating all who enter our doors with kindness and respect.