For 125 years, University Medical Center Brackenridge has been at the center of healthcare in Central Texas. During the summer and fall of 2009, the Seton Family of Hospitals conducted interviews focusing on UMC Brackenridge’s proud past and exciting future.
From hundreds of hours of audio recordings, we have selected interviews which recall watershed moments in our history, and discuss the evolution of modern medicine.
Certainly no single incident has impacted UMC Brackenridge more than the tragic day in 1966 when a deranged ex-Marine named Charles Whitman climbed the University of Texas Tower and began firing. In the aftermath, 14 people and Whitman himself were dead, and scores of others wounded.
University Medical Center Brackenridge, known 43 years ago simply as Brackenridge Hospital, had for its time a state-of-the-art emergency department. But nothing—equipment, manpower, treatment options, emergency drills—could have prepared the clinicians and staff for what was about to happen.
Maxine Cantu-Martinez was an on-duty nurse when the shooting victims—alive and dead—began arriving in waves.
Longtime Austin news anchor Neal Spelce recounts the chaos, news coverage, and efforts to replenish the city’s quickly depleted blood supply.
Ultimately, many vital emergency and trauma lessons were learned by the Brackenridge staff that day. Procedures which were cobbled together in the middle of a chaotic afternoon became studied, refined, and ultimately adopted as useful triage and emergency medical techniques.
But University Medical Center Brackenridge’s expertise in trauma care began long before the Whitman shootings. UMC Brackenridge had the region’s first ambulance, the first intensive care unit, the first Level II trauma center, and now the region’s first Level I trauma center (along with Dell Children’s Medical Center for pediatric trauma).
Legendary trauma surgeon Dr. Tom Coopwood recounts his own experiences at Brackenridge, and discusses the expert level of trauma care at University Medical Center Brackenridge.
In the summer of 2009, University Medical Center Brackenridge was designated by the State of Texas as the region’s first Level I trauma center, the latest advancement in the evolution of this remarkable facility.
1884 Texas’ first public hospital, City/County Hospital
1915 Austin’s first publicly funded nursing school, Brackenridge School of Nursing
1948 Central Texas’ first intercranial surgery, Brackenridge Hospital
1960 Region’s first intensive care unit
1961 Region’s first open heart surgery and heart/lung machine
1966 Modern concept of trauma center born
1972 Region’s first kidney transplant
1988 Region’s first pediatric hospital, Children’s Hospital of Austin
1995 Seton assumed operation of city-owned Brackenridge
1996 Region’s first Level II Trauma Center designation
1996 Region’s first endoscopic spine surgery
2002 Brain & Spine Center
2004 Texas’ first Joint Commission stroke certification
2005 Region’s first stereotactic radio surgery
2007 Clinical Education Center at Brackenridge established to provide the region’s first multidisciplinary medical and nursing education programs
2009 North America’s first Adult Stem Cell & Spinal Cord Injury Summit
2009 First Trauma and Critical Care Conference attracts international talent to
When I was about 8 years old, I was a patient in the old red brick Brackenridge, for 3 months. I had polio and was quarantined. The only treatment at the time was penicillin, which, they learned later, had no effect on a virus. They also used the “Sister Kinney” treatment, which consisted of wrapping our paralyzed limbs in hot blankets. This was during the polio epidemic and everyone was scared to death of the disease. Of course, my family was devastated but, after about a year, I was back to normal. I returned to Brackenridge as a volunteer in the ER in 1985 and joined the staff in 1992.