UTMB Health Angleton Danbury Campus Serves Rural Residents of Southern Brazoria County
By Susan Kirtz, MPH
Managing Editor, Texas Health Journal
Director of Special Projects, Center for Health Communication
The University of Texas at Austin
A Rural Hospital with History
In 1969, the Angleton Danbury Medical Center was founded in Angleton, Texas, by a small group of citizens determined to bring quality healthcare to their community. After gaining approval from the Texas legislature to form a hospital district, it opened its doors with 34 licensed beds.
In 2014, after more than 50 years of operating as a small, independent hospital, Angleton Danbury joined together with the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB Health) to form the UTMB Health Angleton Danbury Campus. This acute care hospital serves the rural communities of southern Brazoria County, about an hour south of Houston and west of Galveston.
The Making of a Great Team
The new partnership, say leaders from both ends, strengthens the ability of both organizations to succeed in an ever-changing healthcare landscape while increasing access to the best possible healthcare for the 60,000 residents of the region.
Although Brazoria County includes Pearland, a densely populated suburb of Houston, the 2010 census lists nearly 23% of the county as rural, compared to 1% of Harris County (containing Houston) directly to the north. The economy is supported by people working mainly in the petrochemical, deep water port, fishing, tourism, agribusiness, education, medical and retail industries.
It is an opportunity for UTMB Health to expand their geographic footprint into Brazoria County, a rapidly expanding market, bringing with them economies of scale that can decrease costs for supplies, drugs, information technology services, and human resources.
For Angleton Danbury, which used to have a hard time recruiting and retaining physicians, the partnership with UTMB has already drawn more than two dozen new physicians to the community, expanding community members’ access to local healthcare.
For the providers based at the campus, it can be the best of both worlds. They can build a small, rural community practice and cultivate personal connections with community members while maintaining a connection to the three hospital campuses and over 50 clinic locations offered by UTMB.
The Angleton Danbury Campus also aims to help the community understand the resources in education, research, and clinical care available to them through other UTMB Health locations. A key component of this work involves Angleton Danbury Campus Auxiliary, a group of hands-on volunteers who support the hospital by sharing their time, energy, and passion for serving patients and their families. Members of the Auxiliary, which was founded back in 1969, assist with day-to-day tasks throughout the hospital, including fundraising, supporting local students through scholarships, and running the hospital gift shop.
Enhancing Educational Opportunities
Katrina Lambrecht, Vice President and Administrator for the Angleton Danbury Campus, also regards the partnership as an excellent way to expand educational opportunities for medical residents and to encourage them to consider sticking around. Students and residents from the UTMB Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Health Professions gain valuable insight into small town practice through their clinical rotations.
“In terms of options for residents as they think about where they want to practice,” says Lambrecht, “it’s really fantastic to get that exposure, because sometimes you don’t know the benefits of working in a community hospital in a smaller town until you go do that. As a trainee, so often we know that where someone trains often is where they’ll end up.”
In 2017, the Angleton Danbury Campus Auxiliary created an endowed scholarship to support students from Brazoria County enrolled in medicine, nursing, and allied health at UTMB. This endowment further strengthens the partnership and provides an opportunity for students who were born and raised in Brazoria County to access higher education and potentially return to practice in their home community.
The UTMB Health Angleton Danbury Campus plans to expand their space, grow their medical training residency program, and add additional specialties in the near future. It’s a big job keeping up with community members in a rural area of one of the fastest growing counties in the region. However, the staff at the Angleton Danbury Campus are determined to remain true to their long-time commitment to serve the community as "Friends and Neighbors Caring for Friends and Neighbors."