On April 27, 1977 the Rio Grande Cancer Treatment Center opened its’ doors to the residents of the Rio Grande Valley and Northern Mexico. The construction of the $1.5 million facility was made possible by the Rio Grande Radiation Treatment and Cancer Research Foundation, Inc., which succeeded in securing a portion of the funding from private philanthropists, and the remainder from Federal Hill-Burton Funds. Certificate of Incorporation for the Foundation was granted on June 12, 1972 and for the next five years members of the Foundation worked diligently to organize and build The Rio Grande Cancer Treatment Center. The initial Board of Directors, according to the Articles of Incorporation, were: H.D. Gilliam, M.D., Francisco I. Pena, M.D., Donald D. Walker, M.D., Ken W. Fesler, M.D., Jesus Rodriguez-Aguero, M.D.
The Foundation was organized and the Center was built to operate a community radiation center for the treatment of persons with cancer, regardless of their financial status, race, religion, sex or national origin. The location of the Center eliminated the need for long and costly journeys to other cities to obtain these services. In 1978 the Center added a chemotherapy department to the scope of its services.
When originally established, the Center operated as an extension of the University Of Texas System Cancer Center’s M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute in Houston. During this time the Foundation was the recipient of all donations and memorials contributions. On September 1, 1981, the Center became an independent facility, while maintaining affiliation agreements with MDAH in the areas of continuing medical education, physics, nursing and laboratory services.
On June 2, 1989, the Center moved into its new location adjacent to Rio Grande Regional Hospital and officially became The Vannie E. Cook Jr. Cancer Center.
On March 6, 1995, Vannie E. Cook Jr. Cancer Center was dissolved and all its assets were transferred to The Vannie E. Cook Jr. Cancer Foundation.
On July 24, 2000 – The Vannie E. Cook Jr. Cancer Foundation, Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital joined together to provide the children and adolescents of South Texas access to the finest community-based, comprehensive oncology and hematology care available.
On June 21, 2001 – The Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children’s Cancer and Hematology Clinic opened its doors to provide care and treatment for local children with cancer and blood diseases – services that were unavailable prior to the opening of the Clinic.
The mission of this partnership includes the establishment of a Pediatric Cancer and Hematology Clinic, a Cancer Genetics clinic, a Childhood Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Program and a Long-Term Survivor Clinic. To learn more about The Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children’s Cancer and Hematology Clinic, visit www.vanniecookchildrensclinic.org.