As a five-year resident of the Best Southwest area, I have been blessed to work at Methodist Charlton and help improve the quality of care provided by our staff.
In March of this year, I was appointed President of Methodist Charlton, becoming the first registered nurse to be named president of a Methodist Health System hospital. I am humbled and honored to provide guidance to our staff while we work to better the health of our community. In the last 40 years, we have undergone many changes, adding to the services we provide the public. With our 40th anniversary fast approaching, I want to take a moment and reflect on the journey we have made together.
The Start of Charlton
When deciding on a location in 1972, the land just south of Highway 67 and Interstate 20, where Methodist Charlton now sits was primarily farmland. J. Erik Jonsson of Texas Instruments (our mayor at the time) and his wife were an instrumental pair throughout the conception of Charlton.
Methodist Charlton was named after their daughter, Margaret Jonsson Charlton, who at the time sat on the Methodist Hospital of Dallas board of trustees.
In 1973, she assisted in hosting the extremely symbolic groundbreaking ceremony. A 20-foot syringe was pushed into the earth to show the transfer of medical skills and knowledge from Methodist Dallas, the parent hospital, to Methodist Charlton, the newest branch.
Charlton and the Community
Throughout the last 40 years, Methodist Charlton has grown alongside the community in Southwest Dallas. Our volunteer staff has gone from 12 women on day one, to hundreds of volunteers who know assist and support us. In 1998, The Golden Cross Congregational Ministry began servicing the Southwest Dallas community, partnering with area churches to integrate faith and health into their congregation. We continue to host Pastor Appreciation Luncheons and Women in Ministry Brunches. One of our impactful service, is the Methodist Charlton Medical Center Auxiliary. This group comes together in covering medical needs at the hospital through donations and fundraising, and helping support our volunteer staff. In the five years the Auxiliary has been intact, they have raised $62,000 for the health and livelihood of the community.
Growth of the Hospital
When we first opened our doors on December 7th,1975, Methodist Charlton was a 4 story hospital with 84 patient beds. The emergency department was small, and there wasn’t a need for many specialty units. The local population in Southwest Dallas at the time was around 20,000, so Charlton was the perfect fit. As the years progressed, the population surrounding us grew and so did we. The first time we relocated and grew the emergency department, our ER visits had doubled in the span of 4 years, totaling 14,516 visits in 1981. In fact, the emergency department expanded two more times after its first relocation.
Since those days surrounded by farmland, we have created and expanded numerous specialty clinics and departments within the hospital, including the Cancer Center, Post-Coronary Intervention, Intensive Care Unit, Outpatient Center, Intermediate Care, stroke unit, Maternity Center, Sleep Diagnostic Center, and inpatient long-term acute care or hospice care. Growing into the 21st century allowed us to focus toward incorporating amenities that not only assist our physicians and nursing staff but our patients and their families as well. There are three nursing stations per floor, allowing easy access and communication between hospital staff and our patients. We built a new cafeteria, registration area, expanded our kitchen, and ensured that our patient rooms were large and private, with flat screen televisions and wireless internet in every room. Every single decision made by Methodist Charlton, from 1972 forward, has been for the health and comfort of our patients and their families. Today, Methodist Charlton is a full-service hospital with 285 patient beds.
Without the support of the community, Methodist Charlton wouldn’t have achieved numerous milestones in the growth of our building and our medical practices. We are home to one of only four Family Medicine Residency Teaching Centers in the area. Our catheterization laboratory was the first of its kind in Southwest Dallas, allowing for coronary interventions in the community’s backyard. Dr. Thomas Hoang, MD performed the very first open heart surgery at Methodist Charlton in 2011. The combined surgical staff brought decades of experience to the table while performing surgery on local pastor, Reverend Jerry Hull. In 2014, we introduced the da Vinci® Surgical System, providing robotic minimally invasive surgery options to the local community. da Vinci® allows hospital stays to be shorter, with greater precision and reduced risk during the surgery of a variety of procedures in gastroenterology, gynecology, cardiology, and neurology.
Here’s to 40 Years
For the community members and employees who have seen Methodist Charlton grow from the beginning, the last 40 years might feel like a whirlwind of memories. I am proud to be leading Methodist Charlton into the start of another 40 years of service to the community, aiding in the health and livelihood of our patients. On behalf of Methodist Charlton, I would like to thank the community of Southwest Dallas for a fantastic 40 years, as well as every employee past and present for their hard work and dedication towards our patients and their families. None of this would have been possible without all of you.
Please join us in celebration of our history at one or all of Methodist Charlton 40th Anniversary Events. We are offering tours to the public to view the Methodist History Wall, detailing the milestones of our health care system. Join us for community prayer breakfast to give thanks to our past and blessing towards our future. Our Employees are being honored at a very special and private lunch ceremony. Lastly, our major celebratory event is the Community Red Carpet Affair, where the Duncanville ISD Wind Ensemble will be performing. I hope to see you there.
Fran Laukaitis, MHA, BSN, FACHE
Methodist Charlton Medical Center
Fran Laukaitis became president of Methodist Charlton Medical Center in March 2015. Prior to being named president, Laukaitis served as interim president and chief nursing officer at Methodist Charlton. Laukaitis is the first registered nurse (RN) to become president of a Methodist Health System facility.