About The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - History
The MEDVAMC began its life in the waning days of World War II. On April 26, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved the acquisition of a 118-acre site on the corner of Old Spanish Trail and Almeda to be used as a 500-bed naval hospital. The site, south of downtown Houston, was actually purchased from the Hermann Estate by 353 Houston citizens and donated to the federal government. On June 1, 1945, President Harry S. Truman designated the hospital as a permanent naval hospital. Commissioning ceremonies were held on September 4, 1946 to place the hospital into active operation. On April 14, 1949, the facility was transferred to the Veterans Administration and renamed the United States Veterans Administration Hospital. Designated as a teaching hospital and affiliated with the Baylor College of Medicine, the hospital accepted 22 residents in its training and education programs in its first year. The father of modern cardiovascular surgery, Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., head of Baylor's department of surgery, a member of the Veteran Administration's Dean's Committee, and a driving force behind today's MEDVAMC's position in the medical community, said at the time, "The affiliation of the Veterans Administration Hospital and Baylor University College of Medicine has served a double purpose: To give Veterans the highest standard of medical care and to enable Baylor to give training in some departments available nowhere else in the South." Dr. DeBakey helped to establish the system of treating military personnel returning from the war, a concept that evolved into the Veterans Health Administration system. As Colonel Michael DeBakey, he served on the Surgeon General's Staff during World War II, earned the U.S. Army Legion of Merit Award, and conducted studies that led to the development of mobile army surgical hospitals or MASH units. In 1983, the U.S. Congress approved the construction of a new $246 million replacement MEDVAMC facility. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held in 1986. In mid-1991, MEDVAMC opened the doors of a new state-of-the-art facility located on the same 118-acre site, and the old hospital was demolished. In recognition of Dr. DeBakey's tireless efforts on behalf of our Nation's Veterans, President George W. Bush signed Public Law 108-170 on December 6, 2003 officially changing the name of the facility to the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.