Texas Medical Center — Houston, Texas   —   TMC NEWS
  Vol. 25, No. 1  Previous Table of Contents Home  Next January 15, 2003 

Remembering Texas Children’s First Physician in Chief
Russell J. Blattner, M.D. – 1908–2002


By ANGELA HUDSON
Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital’s first physician in chief, Russell J. Blattner, M.D., died Dec. 5 in suburban Baltimore. He was 94.

First recognized in the 1940s for research that identified the cause of St. Louis encephalitis, Blattner came to Houston in 1947 as Baylor College of Medicine’s first pediatrics department chairman. He developed Baylor’s pediatric residency program and played a primary role in the planning and construction of Texas Children’s Hospital.

On Feb. 1, 1954, the doors of Texas Children’s Hospital opened, and the first child was admitted for medical care. Blattner decided to allow parents to stay with children during hospitalization, an innovation at the time that subsequently was adopted at most hospitals.

Blattner worked to form a relationship between Texas Children’s and Baylor and to include local pediatricians on Baylor’s teaching faculty. The groundwork he laid cultivated an affiliation that allowed Texas Children’s to become a leading institution.

By 1956, Texas Children’s census was rising steadily, special diagnostic facilities were being developed, and the hospital quickly was earning a reputation as an outstanding center for pediatric diagnosis and treatment.

Blattner retired as physician in chief in July 1977 and was succeeded by Ralph D. Feigin, M.D.

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