The Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine

(Author’s Note: This is selective history, rather than an exhaustive history of UT Health, told from my perspective. There are many founding faculty, students, alumni, administrators and staff whose stories are not acknowledged, but not as a diminution of their role in UT Health’s history. In an exhaustive history, it may be judged that the events related here in are not worthy of inclusion. That will be for others to judge. This document is intended to tell “a” story of UT Health as I experienced it and as I remember it.)Two events occurred in June 2017 that resulted in the preparation of this summary of my thoughts and recollections of what transpired since my first contact with what is now the UT Health San Antonio Long School of Medicine but was once the University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio (UTMSSA).

The first was the receipt of Dr. Bill Henrich’s invitation to the President’s Annual UT Health Gala in September 2017, in which he announced that this celebratory event would be the first in a series of events which will be held in 2018 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of UT Health and the Long School of Medicine.

In my June 17, 2017, response to Dr. Henrich, I commented that my career spans all 50 years of UT Health. I included a picture of my 1968 acceptance letter to the 1969 freshman class. Significantly, it is signed by Dr. Fitzhugh Carter Pannell, the first dean of the School of Medicine and a key figure in this history.

The second event was the receipt of a note from Dr. Ruth Berggren, director of the Center for Humanities and Ethics at UT Health San Antonio, which was titled “God Bless America, You Are All Patriots.” Berggren expressed pride in the compassionate caring of UT Health for the citizens of Bexar County and of Texas. She said, “There is not a more noble way to show patriotism than by demonstrating care and compassion to our neighbors. We care for our country by caring for the PEOPLE in our country. You are all patriots. Happy Fourth of July to all!”

In response to and in agreement with Dr. Berggren, I responded: “Our appropriate pride in UT Health Long School of Medicine’s commitment to the care of Bexar County and Texas’ most vulnerable citizens and non-citizens is built on the foundation of the lives and legacies of men and women like Marvin Forland, Leon Candor, Carter Pannill and numerous others. Some of these paid for our school’s legacy at the cost of their careers and jobs. Their nobility bring tears to my eyes and pride to my heart as I laud and admire those who have so ably walked in their steps, filled their shoes and fulfilled their dreams as they expand that vision.

“Dr. Berggren’s note reminds me of Hubert Humphrey’s 1977 ‘Moral Test of a Government,’ which is emblazoned upon the entrance to headquarters of the Department of HHS, in which he said: ‘The Moral Test of a Government is how it treats those in the dawn of life, the children, those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.’ (We would change the identity of the third group today, as Dr. Berggren does in her note, but the point is made.)

As an alumnus, I applaud Dr. Berggren’s declaration and embrace her heart and vision. God bless us everyone and fill us with perpetual passion and continuously renewable resolve.”

With these two bookends, this story is told.

The Beginning

The first faculty/student gathering of the Class of 1973 was held in September 1969, in the main auditorium at the Long School of Medicine. At that time, Bexar County Hospital (to be renamed University Hospital), the Medical School and the Humanities Center were the only three structures that existed. Ironically, 43 years later, due to the benevolence of a friend, that auditorium would undergo a major upgrade and would be renamed. In 2012, it was the occasion of the dedication of the auditorium that resulted in my writing Dr. F.C. Pannill and of my receiving a note from him. My letter to Dr. Pannill included the following:  “I don’t know if you remember where we first had close contact. I was leaving the school one afternoon and your secretary rushed out and said, ‘Larry, you have to go downstairs. The dean is there for a meeting with students who are interesting a forming a health-careers program for Hispanic children.’ I said, ‘I have to go home.’ She implored me and I went. You and I, and the other student with me, were the meeting. As a result of that meeting, I ran the Health Careers Program for two years. (The Health Careers program was designed to introduce students to medicine. Saturdays, we had a group of students at the medical school with tours, lectures, discussions and encouragement to consider a career in health. All of the students were Hispanic.)

“It was (the Health Careers Program) work which led you to send me with the school’s official representative to the Student AMA meeting in Los Angeles in the spring of 1970.

“At that meeting, a discussion was held about the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) planning to launch the Organization of Student Representatives (OSR) which still exists today. When the students were going to elect a founding chair of the OSR, I asked the student who was the official School of Medicine representative if he was interested in the job. He was not, and I asked him if he minded if I volunteer. He did not. I spoke to the group and was elected the founding chair of the OSR. As a result, I was the chair for two years, one during the organization of the group and the second during its first year of existence.”

In that note, I said to Dr. Pannill: “I still stand in awe of having the privilege of being a physician. As I watched and re-watch the movie ‘Secretariat,’ I am moved almost to tears at the portrayal of his running of the Belmont Stakes. After a brief moment, he is no longer running to beat other horses. He is running for the sheer joy of running. His owner shouts to the jockey, ‘Let him run, Tommy; let him run!!’ The jockey was holding on for dear life. Secretariat is competing only with himself, and his achievement was breathtaking.

“Dr. Pannill, our school, your school, the School of Medicine, like Secretariat, is running toward a goal not before imagined possible in South Texas. You started us; Dr. Henrich and many others carry the torch, and many of us, in communities around the country, run this race with the abandon and joy of a medical-practice Secretariat. When

I stand tomorrow night in the auditorium paid for by my dear friend, Wayne Reaud, with my family, friends, professors, fellow students and colleagues, these are the thoughts I will have. You are central to them all.

“God bless you, my mentor and hero. Thank you for your love and care. It places wind under my wings. Remember that the trainer of Secretariat said the night before the Belmont Stakes, ‘Tomorrow, he is going to take wings and fly.’ Dr. Pannill, our tomorrow has come and many of us, having taken wings, which you helped fashioned, are flying! Amazing.”Dr. James L. Holly is CEO of Southeast Texas Medical Associates, LLP (SETMA) in Beaumont.