Hamilton Memorial Hospital opened to public acclaim on May 12, 1921--National Hospital Day. The $75,000 facility was built in response to both the 1918 flu epidemic and the need for health care services to workers at Crown Cotton Mills.
After a decade of relatively boom times, the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression hit the country hard. Dalton and its fledgling hospital were no exception. By April 1934, Hamilton Memorial faced a fiscal crisis, and it soon closed for 10 months.
Thanks to the local Civitan Club and its Civitan Hospital Board and financial support from the city, the county and generous citizens, the Civitan Hospital board agreed in 1935 to re-open the hospital.
With the onslaught of World War II, many physicians left to serve their country, and Dalton and the hospital struggled with few doctors. At war’s end, returning servicemen - along with a thriving economy and population, quickly began to strain Hamilton Memorial’s limited facilities. Crowded conditions would soon plague patients and staff.
On July 1, 1951, the Dalton City Council adopted a resolution creating a Hospital Authority, and received funds from the Federal Hill-Burton Act. With local funds of some $450,000 (including funds from a dozen area physicians) and a Hill-Burton grant amounting to $900,000, the new 73-bed Hamilton Memorial Hospital was dedicated August 5th, 1956.
The hospital would continue to grow and expand over the next two decades to meet the needs of a city and region rapidly expanding in tandem with the area’s textile and carpet industries. But with the downturn of federal dollars to support hospital expansion, Hamilton’s leaders foresaw a need for bolstered private support. Noted hospital trustee Jackson P. Turner, led the way in the 1975 creation of the Whitfield Healthcare Foundation - an independent affiliate seeking private gifts for Hamilton.
Throughout the 1970s Hamilton Medical Center continued to grow - adding technologies and facilities to keep pace with medical advances and the needs of a thriving city and region.
In 1982, the hospital was renamed Hamilton Medical Center to reflect its expanded role as a regional health care provider. Hamilton Health Care System was also established to serve as a parent company to the rapidly expanding services being introduced to serve the region.
In October 1986, Hamilton realized another major milestone with the opening of the Bradley Wellness Center, a 54,000 sq. ft. comprehensive fitness, health education and rehabilitation facility half a block from the Medical Center.
In 1992 Hamilton’s Royal Oaks became the region’s first continuing care retirement community. It offers private apartment homes with a range of social and lifestyle amenities and assisted-living suites, known as The Gardens.
Throughout the 1990s, Hamilton expanded its mission to seniors through the development of Whitfield Place and Whitfield Commons, offering housing to low-income seniors. Also to assure careful coordination of skilled nursing care, Hamilton acquired the region’s skilled nursing facilities including the development of Regency Park in 1999 at the Royal Oaks’ campus.
As the 21st century dawned, Hamilton had expanded, not only its scope of services, but its reach in the region through placement of a physician specialty clinic in Calhoun and through the lease of Murray Medical Center in Chatsworth.
Rapid expansion and renewal continues as Hamilton plans for future medical advancements unimaginable in the century before. Enhancements have included the expansion and replacement of surgical care services, maternal and infant care and emergency care services.
Hamilton has also instituted a nationally-recognized freestanding ambulatory surgery center and a research-focused regional cancer institute. Significant advancements have also been achieved through development of cardiac, vascular and neurosurgery programs and through acquisition of world class technologies like advanced computerized tomography, high definition MRI and digital mammography.
In March 2009 Hamilton opened Hamilton Convenient Care, a walk-in, no appointment necessary, primary care clinic. Hamilton Convenient Care serves as a resource for those who have limited access to primary care as well as for those minor illnesses and injuries that need prompt attention but are not emergencies. In the same year, Hamilton began offering the latest in minimally invasive surgery with the da Vinci® surgical robot featuring advanced 3-D visualization capabilities.
In 2010, Hamilton Physician Group was formed with Hamilton Cardiology Associates as the first joint partnership between physicians and Hamilton. Hamilton's Turner Maternal and Infant Care Center were able to open a Neonatal Intermediate Care Unit (NICU) with the addition of three Neonatologists.
Following months of preparation and application process, Hamilton was named a Level III NICU facility in 2011, allowing the hospital to care for infants delivered as early as 28 weeks gestation and weighing as little as two pounds.
On February 1, 2012, Hamilton Health Care System and the Murray County Hospital Authority reached an agreement to part ways allowing Murray Medical Center to stand on its own.