Associated Press News Release
Tallahassee Memorial’s proposed surgical and intensive care building will pay homage to an inspiring figure who led TMH for 25 years, Mr. M.T. Mustian.
Mr. Mustian served as Chief Executive Officer of Tallahassee Memorial from 1964 to 1989, sculpting from the framework of a small, city-owned community hospital, a leading, non-profit regional medical center. Under his leadership, TMH overcame many challenges to experience growth in terms of services, technology and facilities, staff size and morale, community perception, and financial fortitude.
“Mr. Mustian inspired tremendous growth at Tallahassee Memorial, including the development of key areas such as behavioral health, cardiovascular, surgical and intensive care services. As we continue to expand in order to better serve our region, it is only fitting that a testament to that growth would bear Mr. Mustian’s name in honor of his leadership and vision,” says Mark O’Bryant, Tallahassee Memorial President & Chief Executive Officer.
When Mr. Mustian was hired by the Board of Directors 50 years ago, Tallahassee Memorial was on the verge of bankruptcy. Mr. Mustian, who had fallen in love with the state of Florida while serving as an administrator at Bay Memorial Hospital in Panama City and later as an administrator at Alachua General Hospital in Gainesville, had recently accepted the top position at a 600-bed hospital in his home state of Texas. After he happened to learn of the opening at TMH during a family vacation to the panhandle, he decided to apply.
The last of several candidates interviewed, Mustian was immediately offered the job. Undeterred by the small hospital’s bleak financial situation, Mr. Mustian saw an opportunity to overcome challenges and move his family away from the hustle and bustle of Houston, back to the outdoor and family-oriented lifestyle they had always enjoyed in North Florida.
The decision soon proved fortunate for all. Within 60 days, Mr. Mustian had taken a number of significant steps toward reducing costs and strengthening Tallahassee Memorial’s financial picture, such as selling unnecessary hospital vehicles, improving purchasing and financial reporting procedures, and securing a $150,000 loan from the City of Tallahassee. By the end of the year, TMH had made tremendous progress and was able to repay the loan in full.
Community confidence in the hospital began to rise, mirroring the organization’s climbing financial status. Over the next several years, generous donations allowed for the purchase of leading-edge technology including a radiostope scanner, an intensive care monitor, and a ”crash cart” used to transport equipment, drugs, and other supplies needed for trauma care throughout the hospital. One donor gave 70 shares of Coca-Cola stock for the purchase of equipment to relieve pain in cancer patients.
As new equipment expanded treatment capabilities at Tallahassee Memorial, the hospital also developed plans to augment its facilities. In 1969, three floors of a new wing were opened, and the following year, additional renovations throughout the hospital and construction of the new wing’s top two floors were completed. Although the additional beds offered more space for patient care, the healthcare needs of the region continued to increase.
Having assumed operation of Florida A&M Hospital in 1967, Tallahassee Memorial transferred nearly 60 Florida A&M Hospital employees and the hospital’s two remaining patients when the hospital closed in 1971.
“The way the hospital was integrated showed how a major facility could work and use the talents of all the people in the community,” said A.D. Brickler, MD, who experienced the desegregation firsthand as the first African American physician on Tallahassee Memorial’s medical staff.
“Mr. Mustian was a fair person, and that, more than anything, put him in the right place at the right time,” Dr. A.D. Brickler recalls.
Ed Haugabrook, who was the active administrator of Florida A&M Hospital at the time of the closure, was one of the employees who made the transfer to TMH.
“Mr. Mustian is a legend and a great man, no question about it, but what a lot of people may not have understood is how much he believed in simply helping people,” says Ed.
As business-minded as Mr. Mustian was, Tallahassee Memorial colleagues and patients knew he cared deeply about other people, the hospital and the community. Beginning in his very first year at TMH, Mr. Mustian developed a patient survey seeking ways the hospital could better serve its visitors. He also focused a great deal of attention on improving colleague morale by creating incentive programs and assessing wages and benefits. The effort went a long way to inspire the staff and boost spirits. On Thanksgiving Day during Mr. Mustian’s first year at TMH, a colleague was married in the hospital auditorium. Positive feelings toward the hospital brought about even further positive growth.
By the time Tallahassee Memorial celebrated it’s 25th anniversary in 1974, a number of new services and programs had emerged under Mr. Mustian’s leadership. The Family Medicine Residency Program had accepted its first five residents and also received an $80,000 grant from the State University System of Florida, the largest ever awarded to a hospital at the time. The residency program held promise of alleviating the physician shortages that had plagued the region for years.
Other developments during Mr. Mustian’s tenure included the establishment of the nuclear medicine program, the opening of the cardiac catheterization lab, the launch of the open heart surgery program, the introduction of ambulatory and Life Flight air ambulance services, and the construction of the North and South wings of the hospital, the first Professional Office Building, the original parking deck, and the freestanding Behavioral Health Center. TMH also began offering laser surgery and became designated as a Level II Trauma Center.
“Whether looking at the services we provide or the buildings we occupy, we realize that every day we are walking in Mr. Mustian’s shadow. By naming this new facility after him, we hope to create a tribute to an iconic leader who did so much to shape the healthcare in our community and across the entire hospital industry,” says Mark.
One of the largest construction projects ever undertaken in Leon County, the building named for M.T. Mustian will be a five-story, 294,000-square-foot surgery and adult intensive care facility located on the southeast corner of the hospital’s main campus. The building will also be designed to serve our community for decades to come, providing a state of the art platform for surgical technologies and increasing healthcare needs over the next 50 years.