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Celebrating 70 Years of Caring

Celebrating 70 Years of Caring and Changing the way health cares.

Let's get ready to celebrate Kelsey-Seybold turning 70!!

On March 15, 1949, the very first patients were welcomed to the newly established Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.  As we near our Clinic's official founding date, we look forward to a number of things planned both internally and externally to celebrate this milestone of caring for the community. 

Be on the lookout and help us engage, share, and celebrate our 70 years of caring for patients. 

We will be sharing announcements and fun, historical facts and stories about Kelsey-Seybold as we approach March 15.  While a lot has changed in Houston, and in medicine, over the past 70 years, it is important to reflect on the foundation that made Kelsey-Seybold Clinic the premier organization it is today.  Brick by brick, employee by employee, patient by patient – each piece is part of our story and the reason we can be confident and assured in the success of our next 70 years and beyond.  

1949 – 1959: The First Ten Years!

Dr. Mavis Kelsey had a dream – to create a “Mayo Clinic of the Southwest” in his home state of Texas. His vision was not just to open a medical practice, but to transform healthcare for patients with a uniquely collaborative approach.

He scouted out potential locations, including Beaumont, Kerrville, and Paris, Texas before deciding on Houston. His dream became a reality with the founding of his first office in the newly built Hermann Professional Building. The office became the birthplace of Kelsey-Seybold Clinic and the start of something that would change the way healthcare would be delivered in Houston.

At the same time, Dr. Kelsey began working part-time at MD Anderson, specializing in thyroid disease. During his 20 years at MD Anderson, he developed the first clinical isotope program, established an endocrine clinic, and worked on constructing a Geiger counter to determine thyroid uptake of radioiodine. His experiments, and those of others, proved the diagnostic value of radioiodine tracers. Dr. Kelsey, who later became known as the “Father of Endocrinology” at MD Anderson Cancer Center, was the first Houston physician to hold a license from the Atomic Energy Commission to administer radioisotopes to humans, and he gave the first dose of radioiodine to a patient in Houston in 1949. Because of the work of Dr. Kelsey and other leading endocrinologists, radioactive iodine is now used to treat hyperthyroidism, Graves’ disease, and thyroid cancer, and is considered one of the great medical advancements. Tens of thousands of patients have since been treated satisfactorily for hyperthyroidism.

Meanwhile, his own practice didn’t just thrive; it multiplied. Partners Dr. William Seybold, a skilled thoracic surgeon, and Dr. William Leary, an internist, joined in 1951 and Dr. John Kelsey, a gastroenterologist, joined in 1953.  Like-minded Psychiatry, Cardiology, and Rheumatology specialists also joined within the first few years. This early growth inspired a move into larger space to accommodate the Clinic’s growing staff and patient base – first to bigger office space on another floor in the Hermann Professional Building, then to a new building two blocks away on Travis Street.  

In 1954, Dr. Earl Beard joined Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, and within his first year, he performed the first cardiac catheterization at Texas Children’s Hospital and helped establish the cardiac catheterization laboratories there and at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital. These noteworthy contributions by Dr. Beard established him as a medical pioneer – and had more and more patients coming to Kelsey-Seybold.

In 1956, Drs. John Kelsey, Mavis Kelsey, William Leary, and Albert Owers established the Kelsey and Leary Foundation to support medical research and education in the Houston area. Over the years, the Foundation became the Kelsey Research Foundation, which is focused on health services and outcomes research.

This look back shows how Kelsey-Seybold has been “changing the way health cares” for 70 years. In fact, we’ve been doing exactly that from the very moment we began.

1959 – 1969: Approaching Twenty Years in Business!

During the 1960s, Kelsey-Seybold’s multispecialty team continued to grow, adding new departments, including Pediatrics, Rheumatology, Dermatology, Urology, Ophthalmology and Dentistry. In the face of this growth, the Clinic moved into new facilities at 6624 Fannin, which later became the site for the 29-story St. Luke’s Tower (now the O’Quinn Tower). Agnes (Aggie) Greer joined the clinic as Dr. Kelsey’s nurse and, like so many of the original doctors, nurses and support staff, faithfully stayed with the Clinic for most of her medical career, serving as Dr. Kelsey’s office nurse until he retired. 

By now, the Clinic had a full-time staff of 28 physicians and became a prototype fo the large general clinic of the future. We stressed quality, recruiting only those physicians who graduated at or near the top of their medical classes and were either board certified or eligible. We also made quality service and convenience for the patient our top priorities. 

In 1966 near the dawn of the space era, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic became the first contracted medical provider fo the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a resounding affirmation of Kelsey-Seybold quality. In 1967, we added four floors to our two-story Fannin Clinic for a total of 77,000 square feet of useable space with large, recessed, floor-to-ceiling glass walls for the waiting rooms on each floor. 

Through its first 20 years, Kelsey-Seybold experienced exponential growth and served as a model to others in the healthcare industry. It was already clear that our Clinic was making big changes to the way health cares – and that patients liked what they were discovering at Kelsey-Seybold.

1969 – 1979: Thirty Years Caring for Patients – and Growing

By the 1970s, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic had developed a reputation worldwide for impeccable, high-quality, coordinated care. This reputation drew high-profile figures like senators, governors, judges, industry leaders, and even entertainer Roy Rogers to the Clinic, along with international patients from Saudi Arabia, India, and Africa.

Kelsey-Seybold's third decade was a time of impressive expansion as we pioneered the opening of "branch clinics" throughout Houston to handle the healthcare needs of the city's fast-growing population. The first branch clinic opened in 1971 in the old Post Oak Tower, which was then considered "West" Houston, but today is known as the The Galleria. This clinic was then followed by a second in the new downtown Houston Center in 1974. It was a move aimed at treating people near where they lived instead of making them drive long distance for care. 

Initially, there was skepticism around the branch clinic concept, but it was highly successful and patients loved it. In fact, our success inspired the Mayo Clinic, the very inspiration for Kelsey-Seybold, to begin opening branch clinics of its own. By this time, our staff had increased to 80 physicians. 

This was also the decade of new beginnings and farewells. In 1978, Dr. James C. Hoyle joined the Pediatrics staff; today, Dr. Hoyle is Medical Director, Clinical Operations. In 1979, revered general and thoracic surgeon Dr. William Seybold, who joined Kelsey-Seybold in 1951 and played a leading role in the development of the Clinic, retired. 

As Kelsey-Seybold continued to grow and reach out to more and more patients, it became evident that "changing the way health cares" was more than a founding vision – it was a reality that had already taken shape.


1979 – 1989: A Time of Change and Fulfillment

Kelsey-Seybold’s fourth decade was marked by significant changes in our prominent medical staff. In 1980 and 1981 respectively, two distinguished physicians joined Kelsey-Seybold Clinic: internist Dr. Spencer R. Berthelsen, M.D., F.A.C.P., who went on to serve as Chairman of the Board of Managers and Managing Director of Kelsey-Seybold Clinic from 2001 to 2016, and gastroenterologist Dr. John I. Hughes, currently Associate Medical Director of Clinical Academic Affairs and Affiliations and former Chief of Gastroenterology.

The success of our early branch clinics spurred additional growth during this decade, including the opening of our original Quail Valley Clinic in Missouri City in 1980 and our Katy Clinic in 1986.

Even more momentous, in 1986, Dr. Mavis Kelsey announced his retirement, during which he would go on to devote to his family and philanthropic interests, and to write more than a dozen books on art, history, genealogy, and travel. He saw his last patient on February 15, just one month after announcing his retirement. At the time, we had grown to 150 physicians. 

To honor Dr. Kelsey’s accomplishments, the Clinic created the Mavis P. Kelsey, M.D., Excellence in Medicine Award in 1987. Honoring all that Dr. Kelsey had done for and created in Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, this award is given each year to a fourth-year UTMB student in the top 10 percent of his or her class.

Dr. Kelsey retired knowing that what he had set out to do had been fulfilled – that within our first 40 years of caring, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic had changed the way health cares – and, even more importantly, that we would continue to do so for many more years to come. 


1989 – 1999: The Milestone of Fifty Years

As Kelsey-Seybold continued to change the way healthcare was delivered in Houston through our fifth decade, the people behind the high-quality and highly coordinated care were working diligently. We opened three more branch clinics during this period, including our Beaumont Clinic in 1994, Kingwood Clinic in 1995, and a second, smaller Fort Bend (Quail Valley) Clinic in 1999. 

In 1997, Dr. Tony Lin, our current Chairman and Managing Director, launched our hospitalist physician program. At the time, Dr. Lin and three other Kelsey-Seybold physicians oversaw and coordinated care for Kelsey-Seybold patients admitted to area hospitals. Early adopters of hospitalist care, Kelsey-Seybold hospitalists, now managed by Dr. Rupesh Nigam, carry on our model of managing total medical costs while delivering a high standard of care. 

In 1999, we built and moved into a 400,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Main Campus at 2727 West Holcombe Blvd. This state-of-the-art location looks like a gleaming shopping mall, with storefronts for a multitude of services. With an outpatient surgery center, urgent care center, on-site Kelsey Pharmacy, spacious waiting areas, expanded Radiology Department with MRI, full-service cafeteria, and free parking, the opening of the beautiful Main Campus was a fitting tribute to our Clinic's first 50 years. 

As Kelsey-Seybold turned 50, our many physicians and staff members could not help but reflect on how far the Clinic had come – and on why it had attained such success. It was no secret that delivering on the unique promise of coordinated, collaborative care had filled a need, touched lives, and changed the way we think about care.


1999 – 2009: Sixty Years of Vision

Dr. William Seybold passed away in July 2004 at the age of 89, remembered for his successful, industrious, and life-changing contributions to healthcare. He not only played a leading role in the development of Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, but was a renowned general and thoracic surgeon who was Chief of Surgery at St. Luke's from 1956 to 1979 and Chief of Staff from 1967 to 1970. In 1972, he became clinical professor of surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, also serving as a consultant in surgery at what was then known at the UT M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute.

Another period of rapid growth and expansion began during this decade. We opened our then-Silverlake Clinic in Pearland in 2002, our Woodlands OB/GYN Clinic in 2003, and our Spring Medical and Diagnostic Clinic in 2005. That same year, we also opened our 75,000-square-foot, Campus-style one-stop shop. Designed to reflect the same open and comfortable atmosphere of the Main Campus, with lots of windows and natural light, Fort Bend likewise gave patients access to a wide range of primary care and specialty care doctors, expanded pharmacy with drive-thru services, and enhanced diagnostic services and technology. 

But it was the launch of our two health plans, KelseyCare powered by Cigna in 2007, our first cobranded commercial plan, and KelseyCare Advantage, our Medicare Advantage plan, in 2008, that would be a game-changer. Under Dr. Kelsey's vision, Kelsey-Seybold was developing as an Accountable Care Organization (ACO). The plans were built on the ACO premise of accountable, coordinated care delivering the Triple Aim of ensuring access to evidence-based, high-quality, and affordable healthcare that starts and ends with the patient at the center. 

In our 60th year, in a move that would revolutionize patient care, we committed $25 million for an electronic medical record (EMR) system linking patients to their record at each location and allowing our physicians to deliver connected care by contributing to and viewing the same medical record for each patient. The EMR gives our physicians the ability to easily view patient history, which results in better care and prevents duplicated testing. 

We also launched MyKelseyOnline, a secure Internet portal that makes life easier for patients and further opens the lines of patient-doctor communication. MyKelseyOnline allows patients to communicate with their doctor's office, make appointments, view their medical records, request prescriptions, and manage their insure and payments. 

So, with these pioneering, patient-centered advancements, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic proudly marked 60 years of caring and saluted Dr. Mavis Kelsey's vision of transforming healthcare forever. 

2009 – 2019: Seventy Years of Caring and Excellence

Throughout our seventh decade, Kelsey-Seybold continued to meet the growing demands of patients and employers, adding multispecialty clinics throughout the Greater Houston area - Cinco Ranch Clinic, Shadow Creek Ranch Clinic, Downtown at The Shops Clinic, Meyerland Plaza Clinic - and our nationally accredited Kelsey-Seybold Sleep Center. Many existing clinics moved into newly constructed buildings that ushered in a more visible, welcoming environment with beautifully tiled floors, an iconic rotunda, and expanded patient services. This period of expansion represented a $250 million investment to add services and specialties to make care more convenient for patients. new state-of-the-art locations include Pasadena Clinic, Pearland Clinic, Clear Lake Clinic, Sumer Creek Clinic, The Woodlands Clinic, Katy Clinic, and Sienna Plantation. Our administrative office moved to a newly constructed four-story building in Pearland, and in 2015, we opened the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic's nationally accredited Cancer Center, the first in Houston and one of 200 in the nation to offer cancer treatment using Varian's Edge™, the latest technology in radiation therapy and radiosurgery.

Sixteen Kelsey-Seybold Clinic locations were named Level 3 Medical Homes, a highly prestigious designation by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) - and earned the Texas Physician Practice Quality Improvement Award recognizing outstanding physician practices in the use of health information technology to improve preventative healthcare.

Meanwhile, Kelsey-Seybold was hard at work enhancing the technology available to patients and staff, completing our final conversion from paper records to an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system, growing MyKelseyOnline to 150,000 members, launching AppointmentsNow, and introducing Virtual Health services for KelseyCare and United Charter Health Plan members.

With moving forward also comes a time to say goodbye. In 2010, Dr. John Kelsey died at the age of 88. In 2013, one year after celebrating Dr. Mavis Kelsey's 100th birthday, Kelsey-Seybold and Houston mourned the passing and celebrated the life and legacy of Mavis P. Kelsey, M.D. In 2017, after nearly four decades as a key member of Kelsey-Seybold Clinic's medical and executive teams, Dr. Spencer Berthelsen retired as Managing Director and Internal Medicine physician. Tony Lin, M.D., was named Chairman of the Board in 2017 after serving as Chairman Designate for five years alongside Dr. Berthelsen. Dr. Lin now serves dual roles as Chairman of the Board of Managers and Managing Director of the Clinic.

Kelsey-Seybold Clinic as a healthcare pioneer was garnering national recognition. In 2012, we were named the nation's first accredited Accountable Care Organization by the prestigious National Commission for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and recertified in 2016. We remain the only organization in Houston to receive this certification. Our national recognition shines a spotlight on the ACO model of care - which is focused on the Triple Aim of evidence-based care and appropriate levels of care in the right setting with the most appropriate provider, better outcomes, and lower total medical cost - and is gaining momentum as a cure for what ails modern medicine.

In 2018, KelseyCare Advantage celebrated a milestone: 10 years of delivering high-quality care to plan members. Our Medicare Advantage plan has experienced tremendous growth, from 2,200 members its first year to more than 32,000 today. The plan is the only plan in Texas rated 5 out of 5 stars by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the fourth time (and third time in a row) it has received the highest 5-star rating.

With all that Kelsey-Seybold has accomplished in its first 70 years, it’s exciting to envision what we can do together into the future. In our short yet storied history, Dr. Mavis Kelsey’s vision was not only realized – but surpassed. This is a testament to his devotion to caring, to the people of Kelsey-Seybold, and to the pioneering spirit we all share to change the way health cares.

Thank you for being part of this incredible, seven-decade journey, for your dedication to our patients, and for continuing the vision of Kelsey-Seybold's innovative model of delivering value-driven, evidence-based, transformative care.