Healing Texas and beyond: New Baylor St. Luke’s hospital tower blessed

April 11, 2023

Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro, CRS, blesses the new outpatient and cancer care center opening in the O’Quinn Medical Tower at McNair, the newest 12-story addition to the Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center McNair Campus off Old Spanish Trail at the Texas Medical Center in Houston. (Photo courtesy of St. Luke’s Health)

HOUSTON — Blessing a new 12-story medical tower on March 28 at the Baylor St. Luke’s McNair Campus in the Texas Medical Center touched a personal heartstring with Galveston-Houston Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro, CRS.

Before sprinkling the new O’Quinn Medical Tower with holy water with an attending crowd of about 150 doctors, nurses, chaplains, and other supporters present, Bishop Dell’Oro shared a letter written by heart surgeon pioneer Dr. Denton Cooley. The famous physician was writing about the bishop’s cousin from his hometown in Italy who had undergone cardiac surgery in 1982 at St. Luke’s, Houston’s Catholic hospital.

“Cardiac catheterization performed in Italy demonstrated severe coronary disease… Operation was recommended, and we were asked to see the patient in consultation,” Bishop Dell’Oro read from Dr. Cooley’s letter.

Bishop Dell’Oro added that his cousin, Celestino Tentori, who came to Houston with his wife Silvana and to St. Luke’s specifically for the bypass and other surgical procedures as a last chance of survival, went on to live another 24 years in Italy.

“I share this letter because you help treat the local community and people from all over the world. Your medical professionals, who are also from around the world, bring physical healing” while the Catholic Chaplaincy Corps helps to bring spiritual nourishment to hospital staff and patients, he said.

St. Luke’s Health, part of the national Catholic CommonSpirit Health system, is home to 16 general hospitals covering Houston, Brazos Valley, Brazosport and Lufkin. It also includes Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, the research and teaching hospital for Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

The O’Quinn Medical Tower at McNair, set to open in April, is the latest addition off Old Spanish Trail that adjoins the existing McNair Hospital Tower, which opened in 2019.

The new tower features more than 360,000 square feet of medical buildout, including suites for diagnostics, radiation therapy, ambulatory surgery, endoscopy, cancer clinic and infusion services.

The ambulatory outpatient surgery center includes 12 operating rooms and 10 new endoscopy suites. Another 40,000 square feet of conference and executive office space are available, along with a connecting parking garage. “The O’Quinn Medical Tower at McNair strengthens our ability to allow our best and brightest clinicians to excel at providing world-class care to our patients and community,” said Doug Lawson, Ph.D., CEO of St. Luke’s Health, in a statement. “We are positioning our ministry of healing to continue as the high-value provider of choice for generations to come.”

St. Luke’s Health board chair Jay Glick agreed, “This whole development in the area is of tremendous importance for at least the next 50 years” as medical care expands outside the landlocked Texas Medical Center along Fannin and Main Street.

The O’Quinn Medical Tower enhances the nationally ranked Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, by tripling it in size with an additional 80-bay infusion center, more than 70 exam rooms, and new imaging and radiation treatment equipment.

The O’Quinn Medical Tower represents a $426-million investment by CommonSpirit Health, St. Luke’s parent ministry that was an alignment of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health, making it one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the U.S. Overall, the McNair Campus comprises a 1.2 million square foot, $1.3 billion project.

St. Luke’s is also investing in significant upgrades to the existing Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center campus, located in the heart of the Texas Medical Center.

St. Luke’s Health is also home to the Texas Heart Institute, and the Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Its integrated network includes more than 380 employed and 1,600 clinically aligned network providers, and more than 21,000 employees, providers, interns and volunteers, delivering quality care within a Christian ministry of healing.

With CommonSpirit Health, St. Luke’s Health is partnered with more than 140 hospitals in 21 states and delivering care to more than 12.3 million patient visits annually. For more information, visit stlukeshealth.org.