Considering the proliferation of hospitals in the Humble area today, it may be difficult to believe that at one time there was no hospital nearby. In 2020, it seemed that a hospital or medical facility opened each month in the Lake Houston area. However, from 1924 until 1977 there was not a hospital near Humble. Saint Joseph Hospital was 14 miles away in downtown Houston.
The Falvey Hospital was built by brothers Dr. Tom and Dr. Jerry Falvey of Conroe about 1918. The large house on Avenue D at Higgins Street was purchased by Dr. McKay Sr. and Dr. Dameron and became the McKay-Dameron Hospital for a couple of years.
The hospital closed and, in 1924, it was purchased from the state of Texas by Mr. and Mrs. John Tooke. The building became a private residence, which left the community of Humble with no hospital.
From the early 1920s until the mid-1970s, Humble continued without a hospital. Saint Joseph Hospital, which opened in downtown Houston in the 1890s, was the hospital where the Drs. McKay Sr. and Jr. were on staff. When care was needed, residents of Humble were treated at Saint Joseph.
During the 1950s and 60s, hospitals began to open in the Houston area, but none in Humble. In the summer of 1955, my family had a medical emergency. My sister and I believe that Dr. McKay treated our brother in his clinic since Saint Joseph was almost 20 miles away.
The need for a hospital in Humble arose again in the 1960s. Jane Herron was a local resident who was active in civic affairs. The story is that Jane’s son was deathly ill and needed a hospital. Jane enlisted the service of a hearse owned by the Fields family to rush her son to a hospital in Houston. After Jane’s son recovered, she began to advocate for a hospital in Humble. During the early 1970s, the Northeast Hospital Authority was formed and plans were begun to build a hospital. Dr. McKay, attorney Sonny Robbins, Jane Herron and other residents were members of the Northeast Hospital Authority. The members of the authority sought the assistance of Northwest Medical Center, located west of I-45 near FM 1960, for guidance in developing plans for a hospital.
Northeast Medical Center Hospital began serving the medical needs of the local residents on Oct. 7, 1977. The opening of Northeast Medical Center meant that hospital services were now only minutes away. The medical center was an asset to the area and grew rapidly. The growth, developments in medicine and other issues related to managing a hospital became too great for those serving on the authority. The dedicated members of the Northeast Medical Center Hospital Authority sought the assistance of Memorial Hermann. On Jan. 1, 2007, Northeast Medical Center was leased to Memorial Hermann, and the medical center was purchased by Memorial Hermann in May 2016. Under the leadership of Memorial Hermann, Northeast Hospital has continued to grow while serving the medical needs of northeast Harris County.
Deerbrook Mall opened in 1984. Not long after, the growing community north of Humble wanted its own mall. The Kingwood Mall was built on the southwest corner of Kingwood Drive and Hwy. 59. It wasn’t long before the doors of the mall were shuttered and a vacant building remained. Enterprising individuals saw the possibility of a hospital. The building was remodeled and Kingwood Medical Center opened in 1992. Two hospitals were now available in northeast Harris County.
Kingwood Medical Center also grew rapidly. The unique walkways and rock fountain remnants from the mall were interesting features throughout the main hospital hallway. Due to its growth, the hospital is now HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood and has grown much larger with the construction of two towers.
As time moves beyond 2020, the residents of the Lake Houston area no longer have to drive more than ten miles to receive medical treatment. Thanks to the vision of Jane Herron, Dr. McKay and others in the Humble community, we now have two large general hospitals and many specialty facilities to serve whatever medical needs arise.