Where his­tory hap­pened: Hospi­tal treated Kennedy

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS - By An­dis Robeznieks

Park­land Hospi­tal, which was founded in 1894 and will soon move to a new fa­cil­ity, will never be able to leave be­hind its tragic his­tory. Nor is it try­ing.

On Nov. 22, 1963, Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Con­nally ar­rived at Park­land’s emer­gency room af­ter be­ing shot by Lee Har­vey Oswald. Oswald was later brought to the hospi­tal af­ter be­ing shot him­self. He died Nov. 24 in an op­er­at­ing room.

The emer­gency room unit where Kennedy was pro­nounced dead is now part of a ra­di­ol­ogy wait­ing room and bears a sim­ple bronze plaque. It states: “Orig­i­nal Site/Trauma 1/Novem­ber 22, 1963.”

The hospi­tal also main­tains a mu­seum wall on its first floor that con­tains a more elab­o­rate plaque mark­ing the events now a half century in the past. It’s a replica of the Nov. 27 memo that Park­land Ad­min­is­tra­tor C.J. Price wrote to the hospi­tal staff.

Price’s memo be­gins by not­ing that Park­land was the tem­po­rary seat of govern­ment for the U.S. and the state of Texas as Con­nally re­cov­ered. It was the site where the 35th pres­i­dent died and 36th pres­i­dent as­sumed of­fice. And it was where the pres­i­dent’s “ac­cused as­sas­sin” died.

When Park­land moves across the street to its new fa­cil­ity, the site as well as the plaque not­ing its place in his­tory will re­main be­hind. A spokes­woman said the rooms that once com­manded the world’s at­ten­tion will con­tinue to serve as aux­il­iary med­i­cal space for the hospi­tal.

But the mu­seum wall will move to the new fa­cil­ity. “What is it that en­ables an in­sti­tu­tion to take in stride such a se­ries of his­tory jolt­ing events? Spirit? Ded­i­ca­tion? Pre­pared­ness?” Price asked in his memo.

“Cer­tainly, all of these are im­por­tant, but the un­der­ly­ing fac­tor is people. People whose ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing is sound. People whose judg­ment is calm and per­cep­tive. People whose ac­tions are de­lib­er­ate and de­fin­i­tive,” he wrote. “Our pride is not that we were swept up by the whirl­wind of tragic his­tory, but that when we were, we were not found want­ing.”

Top: Park­land Hospi­tal opened for busi­ness on its cur­rent site on Sept. 25, 1954. It has been serv­ing the Dal­las com­mu­nity since 1894.

Above: A let­ter to em­ploy­ees from then-Ad­min­is­tra­tor C.J. Price dis­cusses Park­land’s role in his­tory on Nov. 22, 1963.

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