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.
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.