Rendering of the UHS Hilliard Center.
Rendering of the UHS Hilliard Center. Credit: Courtesy / UHS

University Health System is honoring celebrated San Antonio physician, the late Dr. Robert L.M. Hilliard, by naming its newest family healthcare center on the city’s Eastside after the renowned doctor.

The Dr. Robert L.M. Hilliard Center, located at 601 Runnels Ave. near I-35 and Walters Street, is the first University Health System facility named in honor of a person since its founding hospital opened downtown as the Robert B. Green Memorial Hospital in 1917.

The $8 million, 12,000 sq. ft. state-of the-art facility is slated to open in the fall of 2017.

“It’s putting people on the right part of town to serve those that need healthcare,” said Mark Webb, chief executive officer of pediatric services with University Health System.

As part of its design enhancement public art program, University Health System selected Houston-based artist Reginald Adams to engage the community in creating a mosaic mural titled “Healing Hands,” intended to honor Hilliard’s work within the community.

“[The mural] is representative of Dr. Hilliard, the namesake of the clinic, his healing hands, and what he provided over many, many years, not only to the Eastside, but to the community as a whole,” Webb said.

Adams told the Rivard Report that all of his art projects involve community on some level.

“The broader element of community engagement is my focus at large,” Adams said. “To be able to create a work of art in a space that is honoring his name and his legacy is a blessing.”

Artist assistants prepare handprints for the collaborative mural. Credit: Roseanna Garza / San Antonio Report

Webb said the mosaic will be the signature art piece of the facility. Community leaders, patients, staff, and family members were invited to put their hands in clay, which will all be added to the mosaic to be displayed inside the healthcare center. Art from local San Antonio artists will be displayed throughout the space as well.

Hilliard received his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston in 1956 as the third black student to graduate from that institution, and completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Robert B. Green Memorial Hospital in San Antonio.

He was the first black physician to receive specialty training at the Bexar County Hospital and the first to serve as chief resident of Obstetrics and Gynecology at a major teaching hospital in the segregated South. Hilliard entered private practice in 1963. He was the first black physician to perform major surgery at all of the San Antonio area hospitals in existence at the time. Hilliard was chairman of the San Antonio Housing Authority and served one term on City Council.

The center is being built on a two-acre site provided by the San Antonio Housing Authority, and includes room for the center to expand as needed in the years to come.

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.