A new health center is coming for the Richland campus in Dallas College

With the Richland Health Center, Parkland will serve 18,000 patients once fully staffed.

This op-ed by Mary McDermott Cook was originally published in Dallas Morning News on February 26, 2024

“Health is more than absence of disease; it is about economics, education, environment, empowerment, and community.” These are the words from former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders.

Her words are just as true today as when she held her post in the early 1990s. While time and technology have changed, the intersection of health, education and community has remained. One such partnership is that of Parkland Health and Dallas College.

The partnership, which garnered the support of the Dallas College Board of Trustees, city of Dallas officials and Parkland leadership, will provide for a primary care health center on the Richland campus. The Richland Health Center at Dallas College, with a planned opening in early 2026, will add a much-needed 30,000 square feet to Parkland’s outpatient health portfolio in northeast Dallas County.

I am especially pleased this partnership is coming to fruition as it is something close to my heart. As one of the original board members (vice chair) of Dallas County Community College District, my mother, Margaret McDermott, demanded good architecture for the buildings where the board had found locations for each of the Dallas community colleges around our beloved city. So for Parkland Health to bring its medical expertise to the Richland campus that she selected further cements the connection among health, education and community.

Parkland and Dallas County Health Department’s most recent Community Health Needs Assessment showed that the increase in chronic health conditions and the need for preventive care ranked high as areas of greatest risk to our community and continue to impact communities of color at disparate rates. Additionally, it identified specific areas with concentrated low economic investment and low infrastructure correlated with worse health outcomes.

With the opening of the Richland Health Center, Parkland will address health disparities head-on by providing primary and specialty services in an area of highest need. With projections that the clinic will serve 18,000 patients once fully staffed, it will offer services such as clinics for adults, women and infants’ and pediatrics, optometry, pharmacy, lab, patient financial counseling, radiology and family planning. In addition, Parkland will offer behavioral health services for patients who receive care in the health center.

Along with reaching the needs of those attending the college and enhancing opportunities for their education, the center can provide a firsthand view into potential health care careers for students. A variety of programs are offered through Parkland’s Office of Talent Management for those looking to start or grow their professional careers.

In addition, the center will be conveniently located near three DART bus stops, which will also allow increased access as most of Parkland’s patients rely on public transit to get to and from their health care appointments.


Parkland is investing $30 million in capital expenditures to build its newest health center, with philanthropy playing a substantial role. Parkland Health Foundation is committed to raise $12 million to ensure that patients have access to health care in the community where they live, work and play.

My family has always cared deeply about the heart and health of our city. I believe the collaboration between Parkland and Dallas College is one that can serve as a model for the future. I also believe that much like other transformational initiatives in Dallas’ history, philanthropy is central to this endeavor’s success. My sincere hope is that these words encourage others to invest in our community by supporting the Richland Health Center at Dallas College as the Eugene McDermott Foundation has.

Mary McDermott Cook is a community and philanthropic leader in Dallas and beyond. She is president of the Eugene McDermott Foundation, a philanthropic investor for Parkland Health since 1991.

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