Dr. Ron Anderson, the longtime leader of Parkland Health & Hospital System who was remembered for his efforts to expand healthcare access to underserved communities, died Thursday from cancer. He was 68, the Dallas-based system said on its website.
Anderson was named Parkland's president and CEO in 1982 and served in that role for 29 years. He previously was medical director of Parkland's emergency room and outpatient clinic and led the internal medicine division at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Anderson's first foray into the public health spotlight came in the mid-1980s, when he spoke out against the practice of “patient dumping”—or transferring medically unstable, uninsured patients from private to public hospitals. Those efforts led to Texas banning the practice in 1986.
Driven by a vision that everyone should have access to healthcare regardless of ability to pay, Anderson helped develop a network of health centers, primarily in low-income communities, which formed the basis of Parkland's Community Oriented Primary Care program. The safety net hospital won a number of awards for its community-based programs and in 2004, the American Hospital Association bestowed Anderson with its Award of Honor for his efforts.