At the March 1965 Medical Society meeting, Maurice Barnes suggested a committee be formed to address Waco’s medical needs, specifically health care for the indigent. He and R. Wilson Crossthwait cosponsored the committee. That July, steering committee member David Dow gave their recommendations to the board. This eventually became the Post-Graduate Medical Education and Physician Procurement Committee in 1968. Led by Nick Bellegie and George Berry, they tackled the problems of bringing younger primary care physicians to Waco (there was only one physician per 1200 citizens), supplying health care to those who have no resources, the desire for a house staff program for the hospitals, and the need for a director of medical education for Waco.
The next step was the formation of a subcommittee on Continuing Medical Education, chaired by David Dow and co-chaired by Bobby Crossthwait. This group met with Donald Sutherland of St. Paul Hospital in Dallas, who suggested establishing a Family Practice Residency Program in Waco (Family Practice was first recognized as a specialty in 1969). Dr. Dow wrote letters and met with Waco leaders to share the vision, and Dr. Crossthwait found a Director of Medical Education in internal medicine physician Jackson Walker, who started in 1969. These physicians and many others came together to find resources, including physician donations, the Model Cities Program, and Sister Austin for Providence and Julian Pace for Hillcrest committed funds. Carol Crossthwait met with local governments and business to gain their support. Dr. Dow worked with political leaders to arrange grants from Housing and Urban Development.
The Family Practice Residency Program officially began on July 1, 1970 with its first two residents, Bing Oei and Julio Esquivel. The first faculty hired was May Wang, pediatrician, and much of the teaching was done by local physicians. Today that program has developed into the remarkable Family Health Center.
– this story is mostly based on a much more detailed history written by Dr. May Wang for the Waco History Project in 2010.
Steve Raley, MD
Steve started his Waco experience when he moved from Ohio to attend Baylor in 1970. He married Tricia in 1974 and they moved to Houston for his medical school, returning to Waco for family medicine residency at the Family Health Center, graduating in 1980. Like so many who train at the residency program, he fell in love with Waco for its family-friendly schools, churches, healthcare, and great location. He and Tricia left for her training, and they returned in 1985 for good.
Steve is a family physician at Hillcrest Hewitt/Woodway, serves as the medical director of Hillcrest Family Health Centers for the past 16 years, does international medical missions in Haiti, Uganda and Zambia, and is a deacon and Sunday School teacher at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church.
How do you feel things are in Waco medicine today?
“I am very happy with the Waco medical community. Waco has 2 excellent hospitals, a full complement of primary and specialty care and FHC that all provide excellent care for the community. I would like to see everyone in Waco connected with a PCP to provide quality and value for their healthcare needs.
I would love for Waco to be a model of healthcare for other communities where everyone has access to quality and compassionate care.”
If there is one message you’d give to today’s physician, what would it be?
“My message to others is to be dependable and trustworthy. Be thankful for the opportunity we have as physicians.”