In 1952, Gulf Coast Medical Foundation was formed for the purpose of building and operating a hospital facility, Gulf Coast Medical Center, in Wharton, Texas, on a not-for-profit basis. In 1960 the Caney Valley Memorial Foundation was formed which owned and operated Caney Valley Memorial Hospital. The healthy competition between these two organizations caused both entities to flourish, but in 1980, as the costs of operating hospitals became an escalating financial burden, the two hospitals merged. The surviving entities were called Gulf Coast Medical Center and Gulf Coast Medical Foundation.
In the early 1980s, the two hospital campuses were sold for approximately $7 million to Hospital Corporation of America who subsequently built a modern, more efficient single hospital unit. The proceeds from the sale were added to the assets of Gulf Coast Medical Foundation which became a non-operating foundation and began making grants in 1984. Since that time, Gulf Coast Medical Foundation has distributed over $18.5 million in grants awarded in Wharton and the abutting counties: Matagorda, Jackson, Colorado, Fort Bend, and Brazoria.