100 years ago... BCMSA leads the way!
On October 29, 1917, at the Menger Hotel, the Alliance to the Bexar County Medical Society was organized “to create fellowship among the families of physicians and to foster activities in benevolent, philanthropic, charitable and patriotic endeavors.”
This group was composed largely of those doctors’ wives who met twice weekly to make surgical supplies for the Red Cross. Mrs. Frank Paschal, Sr., was hostess and elected Bexar’s first president. Mrs. E. H. Cary, Dallas, was present to assist in the organization.
In May, 1918, in San Antonio, during the TMA annual session, 350 doctors’ wives organized the Alliance to the State Association, with the threefold purpose of “patriotism, philanthropy, and social.” Mrs. E. H. Cary was elected the first president. In May, 1922, in St. Louis, the Alliance to the AMA became a reality.
Taken from The Anniversary History, 1918-1968, Mrs. Edward W. Coyle.
World War I – Supporting our Soldiers
The catalyst which brought the physician wives together was the First World War. The pressing needs of the soldiers, “our Sammies,” on the front and the doctors tending to their injuries were aided by these women. They rolled bandages, knitted mufflers, and sewed surgical gowns. In the eloquently stated words of Mrs. Malone Duggan, “Women’s work is becoming more and more prominent, her field of usefulness has so broadened and scope is so great, that there appears to be no end to her power for good.”
Very early on in the years of organization, emphasis was placed on serving the community with health and health education programs, promoting “acquaintances among doctors’ families,” and taking an active interest in legislative matters affecting medicine on both state and federal levels. Women’s suffrage was still in Congress in 1919, but the early Alliance demonstrated tremendous organizational skills and showed insight that women’s roles were changing forever.
Focusing on Children in the Jazz Age & Great Depression
Following the war period, the Alliance made surgical dressings, baby layettes, and pneumonia jackets which were distributed to the poor in San Antonio by the Public Health Nurses. In one year, 40,000 dressings were made. In the 1930’s the Alliance assisted with a city wide survey of pre-school children in cooperation with a national program for child health and protection. A delegate was invited to attend meetings of a national movement at the White House conference in February 1931. An essay contest and May Day Health Pageant were conducted; awards for health and hygiene observance were part of the Alliance activities. Assistance was also given to the Bexar County Home for Girls and the Home for Boys, the Children’s Shelter, The Protestant Orphanage Hospital, and the Salvation Army Nursing Home.
WWII through the “Me” Decade – Community Advocates
Nurse recruitment became a necessary activity at the Alliance during WWII, as was helping the Red Cross. The medical library or “The Pill Box,” was a place for parties when soldiers came home on leave.
Over the next 40 years, the Alliance strengthened and expanded its focus on bringing needed health care programs to the San Antonio community. Alliance members became active in medically related legislative issues. Programs on nutrition, safety, science fairs and health careers were successfully implemented.
In 1979, one hundred twenty eighth graders participated in a one-day program to learn about skin care, proper nutrition, a healthy self-image, and teenage sexuality. That same year, the Alliance received a first place award for outstanding community services from the San Antonio Council of Presidents.
Building Relationships in the Age of the World Wide Web
Twelve years later in 1992, we joined the state auxiliaries to focus on our youth with, “Healthier Youth 2000” and partnered with schools on a, “Drug- Free Graduation.” We reached across our southern border to aid impoverished pueblos outside of Mexico City with donated medical supplies and medical care. We addressed the AIDS crisis in San Antonio with a baby shower to help with supplies for children at the Providence Home. The Child Advocacy Committee continued a city wide effort to collect and donate bears to comfort “kids in crisis” in our emergency rooms and through our police officers.
We continued to support the education of nurses with scholarships, and raised funds for medical research and student loans. We participated in current legislation at the local, state and federal levels and worked with Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. Through the Domestic Violence Task Force, we researched ways to stop the violence that is so destructive to our society. Organ donation and breast cancer awareness were key efforts, with our Breast Cancer Bingo touted an award-winning program.
The Alliance moved to our new offices in the newly remodeled BCMS Building on French Street. “Unity through the Power of Partnership,” was the focus as members attended the first joint BCMS/BCMSA installation ceremony. Medical friendships were forged through the Book Club, Playgroup, cooking classes and investment seminars. Partners in Practice—members working in their spouses’ medical office—met for Brown Bag Lunch seminars and were an especially cohesive group.
The New Millennium & Beyond
The new millennium brought a renewed commitment to service leadership in Bexar County. As in past years, the Alliance raised awareness of community health concerns by focusing on childhood obesity through the CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) program and city-wide blood and bone marrow donation drives to honor our doctors. Receiving grants from the Texas Medical Association Foundation, we brought vaccinations to hundreds of infants, children and adults through Be Wise Immunize health fairs and clinics and protected hundreds of little heads at out Hard Hats for Little Heads school events, bike rodeos and San Antonio’s city-wide Siclovia.
We’ve partnered with “Worth the Wait” abstinence-based school sex education program for students grades 6-9, provided hygiene and home safety kits to the Assistance League, administered vital immunizations to the homeless and battered in our community, collected toys for the Alamo Children’s Advocacy Center and baked cookies for the Ronald McDonald House. Diabetes education and August Heart Foundation heart defect screenings were also part of our community outreach.
Our Scholarship Program continues to encourage and reward local students pursuing health careers at area universities with renewable scholarships. Creative funding of this has included Foundation Gala, Golf Tournament and Fundraising Tea.
Our Bexar Alliance continues it’s very active legislative presence by locally distributing Judge Slate Cards and travelling to Austin on the First Tuesday of every month from February through May in legislative years to visit with state representatives and senators to help legislators better understand issues facing medicine. Lawsuit reform, the CHIP program and Medicaid are just a few of the issues we lobbied under the guidance of TEXPAC. TMAA awarded us the June Bratcher Award for Legislation.
Alliance membership has grown to better reflect the changing physician family, with male spouses joining the traditionally female Alliance, physicians themselves joining to support the Alliance and 2013 saw the election of our first male Alliance president. Supporting physician families and building medical friendships has driven our evolving programs and social events. A Saturday Membership Celebration joined our Julian Gold Fashion Show honoring Past Presidents, Fall Luncheon and Holiday Brunch to round out our general meetings. A Heart to Heart-Medical Marriages event was held for physician couples as Sips & Dips and Culinary Capers Supper Club joined family picnics, dances and playgroups.
A Junior Volunteer Council (JVC) was formed of high school students of BCMSA members, who serve our community at various events including Hard Hats for Little Heads at Siclovia and area schools and Be Wise Immunize clinics. This commitment to fostering volunteerism in our youth was recognized by the TMAA.
Our newest, vital group is the Young Families Coalition which provides encouragement, fellowship and opportunities for service to our members with young children. Reaching out to residents and military families has grown this group into a thriving presence. Their Lunch with the Littles and Book Club are especially popular, and draw Alliance members of all ages.
In May 2016, the Alliance joined the BCMS in moving their offices into the beautiful custom-built headquarters off Loop 1604 in Shavano Park. As we approach our centennial year, the Alliance is moving forward with great momentum to fully embrace our mission to “bring into closer fellowship and sympathy the families of the physicians comprising the Bexar County Medical Society and to engage in any benevolent, educational, health or patriotic undertaking.”