Longtime Parkland CEO Ron Anderson dies of cancer

RJAnderson

Ron J. Anderson, M.D.

Ron J. Anderson, M.D., president and CEO of Parkland Health and Hospital System for 29 years, died Thursday, Sept. 11 of cancer. He was 68 years old. As of Friday morning, services were pending.

Anderson took over as head of Parkland in 1982, when he was 35 years old and when the AIDS epidemic was in its early days. Anderson was head of the county hospital when, in the late 80s, the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance  (then called Dallas Gay Alliance) and Ron Woodruff of Dallas Buyers Club fame, filed — and won — the lawsuit that forced Parkland to treat people with HIV.

Anderson was named president and CEO after serving two years as medical director of the hospital’s emergency room and outpatient clinic and head of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Division of Internal Medicine. He retired from Parkland in 2011, after spending his last years with the hospital leading the bond campaign that brought in public financing for the new $1.3 billion facility due to open next year.

In the mid-1980s, Anderson grabbed national attention when he spoke out against the practice — called patient dumping — of transferring medically unstable patients from private hospitals to public hospitals based on the patient’s ability or inability to pay, leading to passage of state laws regarding indigent care in Texas and later federal legislation banning patient dumping.

According to a press release from Parkland announcing his death, Anderson was known as an advocate of universal health care and for leading development of Parkland’s Community Oriented Primary Care health centers. He came to national attention again in the mid-1990s as a spokesperson in the movement for better confidentiality regarding the patient/physician relationship.

Anderson once said, in a speech to a UT Southwestern graduating class, “It is not enough just to try ‘to do good’ and try ‘to avoid evil,’ although these are the ethical keystones of the physician/patient relationship. We cannot be paternalistic toward patients and must accept their cultural, religious, ethnic and social differences. We must respect our patients’ autonomy and desire for wholeness, which should stimulate us to address the social justice issues affecting our patients’ lives.”

—  Tammye Nash

CORRECTION: Union Jack older than The Bronx

I received a friendly phone call from Richard Longstaff, owner of Union Jack, who lamented the passing of The Bronx but reminded me that his store is older. In my recent story, I called The Bronx the oldest gay-owned business on the street.

Longstaff opened Union Jack in August 1971 on Hillcrest Avenue across from SMU. In December 1972, he moved to his current location on Cedar Springs Road. For several years, the only other gay-owned business on the street for several years was a bookstore owned by Larry Lingle.

The Bronx opened in the mid-’70s. In the late ’70s, Frank Caven leased property on the corner now occupied by Hunky’s. That space burned down before he opened, but he leased across the street and opened a bar called The Candy Store.

Throckmorton Mining Co. opened in the late ’70s. So did Magnolia’s, which became the Round-Up Saloon. The Old Plantation that became Village Station moved from downtown in the early ’80s.

But Union Jack was the fixture all along. The store moved from its current location after a fire in 1989 that also damaged the Dallas Gay Alliance office and the Round-Up.

Longstaff said he moved to a vacant storefront for about a year and a half as his original space was rebuilt. He has been back in that space since 1991.

In the early ’70s, Longstaff was the first person to appear on television in Dallas as a gay business owner. For years whenever anything happened in the LGBT community, it was filmed in front of his store.

So how did I forget that Union Jack was first?

“People think I’m years younger than I really am,” he said.

Of course that’s the reason.

—  David Taffet