EAMC History

EAMC History

1940

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1945 – Winston Smith T and other concerned citizens meet at the Opelika Chamber of Commerce to discuss the future health care needs of Lee County. At the time, most area residents were using Opelika Hospital, a 25-bed facility located at the corner of 9th Street and 3rd Avenue.

Late 1940s – U.S. Senator Lister Hill of Montgomery, Alabama, helps write the Hill-Burton Act that provides matching federal funds for communities seeking to build a hospital. Mr. Smith T and others apply for and received this federal funding. They receive a portion of their local funding from Pepperell Manufacturing Company, the business that also donated the land where the hospital was built.

1950

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1950 – A 9-member board of directors is established for Lee County Hospital in June, with Winston Smith T serving as the chairman. That fall, construction of the hospital begins. Batson-Cook Company of West Point, Georgia, constructs the 81-bed hospital in less than 18 months at a cost of $900,000.

1951 – The Women’s Auxiliary of Lee County Hospital organizes in the fall of this year to arrange for volunteers in the hospital. Mrs. L.W. (Dot) Montgomery, Jr., is the first Auxiliary president.

1952 – An open house for Lee County Hospital is held on February 10th and 11th. Senator Lister Hill addresses the crowd at the dedication service. When the hospital opens, it has 70 employees and 13 doctors. Dr. Byron S. Bruce serves as the hospitals’ first Chief of Staff. The first patient, Iva Dean Sharpe, is seen on February 16th. Mrs. Sharpe’s baby girl, Deanna, is delivered by Dr. James Walker.

1959 – The hospital receives its first accreditation by The Joint Commission.

1960

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1962 – The hospital’s first expansion takes place as 30 beds are added and a 37-bed nursing home is constructed.

1964 – Dr. William Lazenby, a general surgeon, joins the medical staff. Lazenby was instrumental in recruiting many other specialists and served on the board of directors for 36 years (1968-2004).

1965 – Lee County Hospital complies with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, meaning the hospital would no longer have segregated patient rooms, restrooms, entrances or dining areas.

1967 – Another expansion brings the bed total to 67 for the nursing home and 116 for the hospital.

1969 –At the end of 1969, the hospital has 283 employees, 147 volunteers and 32 doctors.

1970

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1971 – Because of high occupancy rates and a need for more beds, the hospital ends its nursing home service and replaces it with general hospital beds. When the conversion is complete, the hospital has a total of 164 hospital beds.

1973 – The hospital breaks ground on an expansion project (Phase I of a long-range plan) to increase the number of beds from 164 to 218. The $9.74 million project would also bring about major renovations throughout the building, and give the hospital a new white concrete façade and canopy along Pepperell Parkway.

1975 – Seventeen years prior to opening its Cancer Center, the hospital purchases a Cobalt 60 x-ray therapy machine for $450,000 to treat cancer. Also, the hospital’s first female physician, Soma Nagendran, begins practicing at Lee County Hospital this year.

1977 – The hospital celebrates its 25th anniversary, and so do five employees who were still employed since day one: Eunice Bartlett, Willie Echols, Odessa Shumate, Doris Southers and Mable Story.

1980

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1980 – Phase II of the hospital’s long-range expansion plan takes place, bringing the bed capacity to 228, and adding such features as a 250-seat cafeteria, an expanded kitchen, an education complex, a gift shop and additional parking. At this time, the hospital has 657 employees, 268 volunteers and 60 physicians.

1981 – After 29 years as Lee County Hospital, the name of the hospital is changed to East Alabama Medical Center in July. A new logo was created and is still in use today.

1982 – West Point Pepperell donates an additional 12.87 acres at the rear of the hospital for the purpose of adding parking spaces.

1983 –The hospital comes under management by National Healthcare, and three of the people assigned to EAMC are Jonathan Farr (CEO), Terry Andrus (COO) and Dale Mulder (CFO). In late 1983, Andrus would become the new EAMC Administrator, a position he still holds today. During this year, the hospital starts Phase III of its expansion project.

1985 – Phase III was completed in the spring of this year, and a Grand Opening was held on May 26. The $10 million expansion—known as the South Bed Tower expansion—created a new brick façade along Pepperell Parkway. This expansion brought the total number of beds to 334. This year also marks the beginning of EAMC’s cardiology program, as Dr. John Mitchell performed the hospital’s first heart catheterization in July.

1987 – EAMC’s heart program expands this year as doctors John Garrett and David Cleveland perform the hospitals’ first open-heart procedure. The patient is Bobby Sizemore, an EAMC employee at the time who actually helped install the equipment. The EAMC Foundation is established with Judy Jackson serving as director from 1987 - 2007.

1988 – With funds from the Foundation’s first capital campaign, the Pediatric unit is renovated and renamed Pediasaurus.

1989 – The first laser angioplasty at EAMC is performed by Dr. John Mitchell. The Foundation holds its first endowment gala and raises $25,000.

1990

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1990 – Dr. Wendell Gaillard, a physician on staff since 1973, is named chief-of-staff, making him the first African-American to serve in that role at EAMC.

1991 – EAMC’s Cornerstone Society is established after an employee loses her husband and her home to a fire. Cornerstone is an employee assistance program that helps employees who have experienced a crisis in their lives. Also this year, Hospice of Lee County—previously run by volunteers—becomes a service of the hospital.

1992 – During 1992—the 40th anniversary of the hospital—the Cancer Center of EAMC opens. Roughly half of the $3 million price tag was paid for through a capital campaign orchestrated by the EAMC Foundation.

1993 – Construction continues this year as the 50,000-square-foot Outpatient Services Center is completed and opens.

1994 – EAMC opens a 4-bed Sleep Disorders Lab and starts a Home Care business.

1995 – Cornerstone builds the 1st of its 5 Habitat for Humanity houses for employees.

1997 – EAMC purchases a 37-acre tract of land near the mall in Auburn for the purpose of building Auburn Medical Park.

1998 – The Diabetes Treatment Center was established.

1999 – Camellia Place, an assisted and retirement living facility, opens at Auburn Medical Park. EAMC is listed among the “Top 100 Heart Hospitals in the U.S.”

A New Century

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2000 – The state’s first free-standing inpatient hospice facility opens at Auburn Medical Park in October and is named Bethany House. A capital campaign by the Foundation helps raise more than $850,000 for the 10-bed facility. HealthPlus Fitness Center opens shortly thereafter on the same campus. EAMC is once more listed among the “Top 100 Heart Hospitals in the U.S.” Also, the hospital is named to Fortune magazine’s list of the “100 Best Places to Work in America” for 2001. The hospital was ranked #36 that year.

2001 – EAMC is listed again among the “Top 100 Heart Hospitals in the U.S.”, one of only 19 hospitals nationwide to make the list all 3 years. More honors are bestowed upon the hospital as EAMC earns an Alabama Quality Award and is recognized by Press, Ganey for its consistently high scores in patient satisfaction.

2002 – EAMC celebrates its 50th anniversary. As part of the celebration, officials bury a time capsule near the flagpole with various items in it including a newspaper from 1952 touting the hospital’s opening. Also this year, EAMC purchases Atria I and II retirement communities and names them Magnolia Place and Azalea Place. A few employees participate in the hospital’s first international mission trip to Guaimaca, Honduras. EAMC is once again named to Fortune magazine’s list of the “100 Best Places to Work in America,” coming in at #18. The hospital is then informed by Fortune that EAMC will no longer be eligible to apply, since the rules were changed to exclude public-sector agencies.

2003 – EAMC announces plans for its Phase IV expansion project. Plus, the hospital adds several new services: AIDS Outreach, HomeMed, Forensic Toxicology Lab and Oak Park Retirement Living and Nursing Home (previously Wesley Terrace).

2005 – The Wound Treatment Center opens. With the completion of a 4-story parking deck, construction on Phase IV begins. The $60 million project will take more than 2 years to complete.

2006 – The EAMC Prenatal Clinic opens. Also, EAMC sends its first group of employees to New Orleans to assist with the recovery effort following Hurricane Katrina. Five teams of employees work on the Gulf Coast between 2006 and 2008. The West Pavilion—the first part of the Phase IV project—opens in October. It consists of CVICU, Cardiac Rehab, ICU and 10 operating rooms. A month later, the 5th floor of the expansion project opens.

2009 - Home Care of East Alabama Medical Center is purchased by the LHC Group, but the name remains the same as EAMC is a minority owner at 25%. AIDS Outreach of EAMC changes it name to Unity Wellness Center and opens a clinic to provide medical care one day per week. The Forensic Toxicology Lab changes its name to Aperian Lab Solutions. EAMC is one of 34 health care providers nationwide to receive a grant from Cardinal Health Foundation for a program to reduce catheter-associated urinary tract infections. EAMC opens a primary care physicians’ office in Auburn called Primary Medicine Associates.

2010 - EAMC introduces a new logo that is more user-friendly from a marketing perspective because it is horizontal. The Gridman logo—which was designed in 1982—would still be used internally. RehabWorks-Opelika moves into its new location. EAMC earns Best in Class Employer award from HR Solutions. The daVinci robotic surgical system is installed at EAMC, one of only 18 in the state at the time. All EAMC buildings and campuses become tobacco-free on October 1st. EAMC becomes the 1st hospital in Alabama to achieve TJC Diabetes disease-specific care certification. Hospice and Bethany House are sold to Hospice Advantage, but EAMC remains a minority owner (25%) so the local hospice becomes known as Hospice Advantage EAMC.

2011 - HealthPlus Fitness becomes the 1st facility in Alabama to receive Medical Fitness Association certification. EAMC earns its first monetary award ($1.2 million) from ARRA for “meaningful use” of electronic medical records. EAMC becomes 1 of only 5 hospitals in Alabama to be named by WomenCertified as a “Top Hospital for Patient Experiences.” Development Dimensions International (DDI) presents EAMC with a Grow Your Own Leaders Award, one of only 19 organizations globally to receive such recognition.

2012 - The EAMC Foundation hosts its first-ever Celebrate Life event. EAMC celebrates its 60th anniversary. The Psychiatry department undergoes an expansion and renovation. RehabWorks-Auburn relocates to Auburn Research Park.