Progress: Health

April 4, 2012

Hamilton Health Care System

From small community hospital to innovative health delivery system


Continued growth,

continuum of care

By the end of the 1960s, Hamilton could boast a physical plant valued at $3.5 million and an annual budget of the same amount. There were 332 full-time employees, 200 Red Cross volunteers and 40 physicians and dentists on the medical staff. Hamilton and the Dalton area were growing.

As the 1980s arrived, to preserve the hospital’s future, Hamilton officials decided to move from being a local hospital confined to services within its walls to a regional health system (now, Hamilton Health Care System) that provided a broad continuum of care. The arrangement allowed Hamilton to grow vertically as a health care system, spawning entities from an ambulance service to long-term-care facilities. To strengthen Hamilton’s position in the market, a name that better reflected its role as a regional provider was adopted: Hamilton Medical Center.

Championing wellness

In the mid-1980s, a focus of Hamilton officials was the concept of wellness. The wellness philosophy was embraced by respected senior physician Paul Bradley. Long an advocate of early detection, he was fascinated by a study that correlated wellness at the workplace with lowered medical costs for employees. He shared the study with Burkett, who became equally enthused about the potential of a hospital-based health promotion program.

The Whitfield Healthcare Foundation had also become a champion of the wellness cause, and foundation trustees voted to make construction of a wellness center its major fundraising goal. With the promise of foundation support, the boards of trustees approved the 54,000-square-foot project nestled on a rolling nine-acre site half a block from the hospital.

The wellness center would not just be a fitness center. It would include a modern rehabilitation department, an assessment area for fitness screening and a wide array of educational programs led by a highly-trained staff. It would contain a physician-monitored cardiac rehabilitation program along with classrooms, a resource library and a teaching kitchen. The ambitious project, opened in 1986, was named Bradley Wellness Center in honor of Bradley.

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Progress: Health
  • NGHP Progress 1.jpg Northwest Georgia Healthcare Partnership seeks to improve community health status

    Imagine 30 leaders of business and industry, health care providers, local government, education and public health volunteering to put aside their personal agendas.

    April 4, 2012 1 Photo

  • Health district 1.jpg North Ga. Health District makes an impact on region

    The North Georgia Health District may not be well-known, yet it provides vital services that most people tend to take for granted but would never want to live without.

    April 4, 2012 1 Photo

  • murray hospital4.jpg Murray County has rallied behind hospital many times

    Frank Hall had throat cancer and his health was fading fast. But when a friend took the Murray County farmer to a hospital in Atlanta for treatment, he was turned away.

    April 4, 2012 1 Photo

  • P-Marlow:Thomas 1.jpg Changing doctors

    When Dr. Don Thomas first began practicing in Dalton in 1960, he charged $3 for an office visit and $75 to deliver a baby.

    April 4, 2012 1 Photo

  • Hamilton Health Care System

    Hamilton Health Care System’s history began in 1919 when a worldwide flu epidemic shattered local complacency about the need for a hospital. The trip to Chattanooga was long and difficult at best, and too much for some. Under the listing for “Hospitals,” the Dalton city directory stated three simple words: “We need one.”

    April 4, 2012