EDINBURG, Texas – DHR Health celebrated the one-year anniversary of their Level 1 trauma designation with a dedication ceremony commemorating trauma surgeon and pioneer Dr. Kenneth L. Mattox.

Mattox, surgeon-in-chief at Ben Taub Hospital and distinguished service professor at Baylor College of Medicine’s Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, is well known in the medical community. He authored the definitive textbook “Trauma” and developed the Mattox Maneuver, a surgical step to explore injuries within the abdominal cavity. For DHR Health, he worked as an unpaid consultant as the hospital strived to earn its Level 1 trauma accreditation. Mattox was formally recognized for his crucial role throughout the process with the renaming of the institute’s trauma center in his honor.

“To have something named after you is very humbling and very sobering,” said Mattox.

DHR staff, first responders, and dignitaries such as Sens. Eddie Lucio Jr. and Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa attended the event held at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance. Gov. Greg Abbott, a major proponent for the designation, returned to speak about the honoree as well as reflect on the long journey to get a Level 1 trauma center in the Rio Grande Valley.

“Several years ago, leaders of DHR explained to me the need for a Level 1 trauma center,” said Abbott. “Candidly, as a person who had a traumatic injury, myself, it wasn’t very hard to explain to me about the need for a Level 1 trauma center. I was in a level 1 trauma center, and I could not imagine somebody in the Rio Grande Valley suffering an injury like what I had, having to be taken to San Antonio or Corpus Christi or some other place. So, it struck a chord with me, and that is why I worked along with the legislature so powerfully to make sure that we got this across the finish line … And today, once again, they make history with the official dedication of the Dr. Kenneth [L.] Maddox Trauma Unit. Significantly, this is the first and only Level 1 trauma center south of San Antonio and the only Level 1 trauma center in the Rio Grande Valley. So, to say the least, this is a monumental day for this hospital and for the health and safety of the entire Rio Grande Valley region.”

Abbott commended the Valley delegation of representatives, DHR leadership and DHR board member and Cantú Construction CEO Alonzo Cantú for their efforts to elevate the level of care for patients in the region. In turn, Lucio thanked Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and his colleagues as he reminisced about the momentous occasion.

“I ’m remembering back to 1987 when I first started my legislative career, and it just brought incredible memories of dreams that we all had [like] having the best quality health care delivery in the Valley,” said Lucio. “… And, I’m very proud to just be part of what has happened since then … But, the whole Valley delegation, quite frankly, has to be given a lot of credit because we all worked together. Never was there any doubt of what we needed to do and what we had to do to make things possible at the state level. But, none of that could really happen without the leadership we have here … It takes a team – bottom line – and we had the A-Team here.”

DHR Health’s Trauma Medical Director Dr. Jeffrey Skubic spoke about the life-saving care that is now accessible to patients. To highlight this, a video testimonial was played of a patient who sustained severe injuries after a car accident. He was saved and rehabilitated due to the advanced treatments he received at the hospital.

“Bringing a Level 1 trauma center to the Valley was only just the first step,” said Skubic. “We continue to add services to the community that have never before existed in South Texas.”

In his honorary speech, Mattox explained how the community will continue to be positively impacted by the Level 1 designation as better health outcomes will increase while costs will decrease. Advancements in research and technology raise standards across the board and prompt other facilities elevate their care. Mattox challenged DHR Health to continue to “find those new ideas,” even after he is gone.

“Time will dim memories of this celebration,” said Mattox. “But, as future clinicians enter the doors of this trauma center, let this name inspire you and them to always reach for the best way to serve your patients. In our profession, there is always a better way. Renaissance is making it possible for you to find that better course. Go to the heart of the challenge, and there you will find safety, success and satisfaction.”

Marissa Castañeda, DHR Health’s senior execute vice president, took up Mattox’s clarion call as she closed the ceremony.

“Your name on our building stands for the trail you helped forge to bring the highest level of trauma care to our families, loved ones and neighbors here in South Texas,” said Castañeda. “It shines a light on the advances being made here at home … We assure you that we will not stop here. Let us continue to work together to be that beacon for advancements in health care for all of South Texas.”

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