Progress: Health

April 4, 2012

Hamilton Health Care System

From small community hospital to innovative health delivery system


“Hamilton: Linking Vision with Tradition,” a Hamilton history book by Barry Parker, was a significant source of information for this story.

Hamilton firsts

• First fully air-conditioned hospital in the state. (1956)

• First hospital in the state to install a two-way radio system to communicate with physicians. (1958)

• First hospital in the state to be accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations. (1959)

• First hospital in the state to establish a fully developed Intensive Care Unit. (1964)

• First hospital in the state certified to accept Medicare patients. (1966)

• First hospital in the state to establish a hospital-based hospice program. (1984)

• First hospital in the state to perform a laser laparoscopic cholecystectomy, offering a far less invasive form of gallbladder removal. (1990)

• First Continuing Care Retirement Community in the region was opened on the Hamilton Medical Center campus. (1994)

• One of two hospitals in the five-state region to offer the gastric band procedure to treat morbid obesity. (2001)

• First hospital in the region to offer the latest generation of the surgical robot, da Vinci SI. (2009)

• First hospital in the nation to participate in a pilot study to test how an interactive media tool, called Mediavision, can help entertain and inform patients. (2011)

Source: Hamilton Health Care System

Historical highlights


Directors of Crown Cotton Mills discuss the establishment of a “modernly arranged and equipped Hospital House,” primarily for company employees.


Ground is broken for a 42-bed, incorporated community hospital.


One thousand citizens attend the dedication of Hamilton Memorial Hospital on Waugh Street.


Hamilton closes its doors and The Daily Citizen begins an editorial campaign to reopen the facility.


The hospital reopens under the management of a not-for-profit Civitan Hospital Board, the same year the discovery of sulfa drugs, the first effective treatment for bacterial infection, is announced.


The hospital opens a regional cancer radiation therapy center, the Judd Memorial Cancer Clinic.


The Civitan Board raises funds for and constructs a two-story annex, providing rooms for black patients for the first time.


The Dalton-Whitfield County Hospital Authority is established, converting ownership and management to a public authority.


Norman D. Burkett is hired as the hospital’s first full-time administrator.


A new modern, 73-bed Hamilton Memorial Hospital opens on Memorial Drive.


Groundbreaking is held for a 43-bed addition to the hospital.


The B.J. Bandy-Chrissie McCutchen Intensive Care Unit, one of the first fully developed ICUs in the state, opens its doors.


Hamilton becomes the first hospital in Georgia certified to accept Medicare patients.


The hospital receives the largest health construction grant ever awarded by the Appalachian Regional Commission. The $5 million grant helps fund a $15 million expansion.


The Whitfield Healthcare Foundation is established to encourage charitable contributions.


The new Frederick R. Westcott Psychiatric Pavilion brings inpatient psychiatric care to the region.


Hamilton begins providing home health care services to three counties in North Georgia.


A $10 million expansion includes the Lauman Surgical Care Center.


The hospital is renamed Hamilton Medical Center to reflect its expanded role as a regional health care provider.


Hamilton Hospice is the first Medicare-certified program in Georgia.

Hamilton becomes one of the first hospitals in Georgia to undergo corporate restructuring with The Hospital Authority owning hospital assets and daily operations managed by Hamilton Medical Center Inc., an affiliate of the not-for-profit, tax-exempt Hamilton Health Care System Inc.


Bradley Wellness Center, the region’s premier health promotion and fitness facility, makes its debut.


Whitfield Commons, Dalton’s first senior housing facility, opens with 42 apartment homes.

The Norman D. Burkett Building opens with expanded services.


Hamilton receives a three-year “accreditation with commendation” from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, an honor given to only 7 percent of hospitals surveyed nationwide.


Royal Oaks, an affiliate of Hamilton Health Care System, opens the first continuing care retirement community in the area to residents in November.

Hamilton Medical Center is named Not-For-Profit Hospital of the Year by the Georgia Alliance of Not-For-Profit Hospitals.

Hamilton receives accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.


Hamilton Medical Center is named one of America’s Top 100 Hospitals by HCIA and Mercer Consulting Groups, two national consulting agencies.


Whitfield Emergency Medical Services named Region One EMS of the Year.

Hamilton restructures to become a private, not-for-profit, tax-exempt hospital with acquisition of hospital assets from The Dalton-Whitfield County Hospital Authority.

Hamilton opens a Sleep Disorders Laboratory to better serve the public’s needs.

Whitfield Place, a 48-apartment-home complex designed to meet the needs of older residents with low income, opens.

Hamilton’s Diabetes and Nutrition Center is recognized by the American Diabetes Association for its quality patient education program.

Hamilton Medical Center is once again named as one of America’s Top 100 Hospitals, a distinction only bestowed on one-half of one percent of all hospitals nationwide.


Hamilton Long-Term Care Inc., an affiliate of Hamilton Health Care System, purchases three area skilled nursing facilities: Ridgewood Manor, Quinton Memorial and Wood Dale Health Care Center.

Hamilton launches the Northwest Georgia Sports Medicine and Industrial Rehabilitation Program.  

Hamilton once again scores among the best hospitals in the nation when it is surveyed by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Hamilton scores a 97 out of possible 100 points.

Hamilton Diagnostics Center, Hamilton’s outpatient radiology facility, completes its expansion project, which provides area residents the most advanced digital diagnostics center in the Southeast.

The Medical Plaza, a 51,000-square-foot medical office building, opens to meet the community need for more medical office space for physician practices serving our area.


Hamilton Medical Center receives the Voluntary Hospitals of America Inc. Leadership Award.


Regency Park, a 100-bed advanced skilled nursing facility, opens for area residents in March.

Bradley Wellness Center completes a 10,000-square-foot expansion to accommodate growth in membership.

Hamilton Diagnostics purchases upgraded Magnetic Resonance Imaging equipment providing enhanced MRI services to area residents.


Hamilton Health Care System launches its website

Hamilton Medical Center creates Hamilton Surgical Weight Management, a bariatric program designed around the Lap-Band (laparoscopic adjustable gastric band) procedure. Hamilton becomes one of 20 original U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) trial sites for the Lap-Band procedure.

Hamilton once again receives a high score of 97 out of 100 possible points from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.


Hamilton opened a seven-room Chest Pain Center in its Shaw Department of Emergency Care.

Hamilton Ambulatory Surgery Center, a freestanding surgery center with four operating suites and 22,500 square feet combining the latest medical technology with comfort and convenience, opens.


Hamilton becomes one of 10 FDA trial sites for the Swedish band, another cutting edge bariatric procedure.

Hamilton opens its new Surgical Care Center, which includes six operating suites, specialized rooms for endovascular and urology procedures, a new Surgical Intensive Care Unit, a family-oriented waiting room and private consultation rooms. Hamilton also completes its remodeling which includes a new main entrance.

Hamilton once again receives a high score of 98 out of 100 possible points from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.


Hamilton Home Health is awarded a Certificate of Need to expand its services into Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties.

In April 2004, renovation of Judd Cancer Center begins to prepare for the installation of an advanced linear accelerator and CT simulator. Renovation also begins on a Special Procedures Lab featuring digital vascular and interventional equipment.


The Varian SmartBeam IMRT radiation therapy system becomes operational at Judd Cancer Center.

Implementation of the Hamilton Regional Cancer Institute begins.

Hamilton Medical Center is selected as one of 10 Georgia hospitals to participate in a national program to provide angioplasty, led by Johns Hopkins Medical Institution’s Cardiovascular-Patient Outcomes Research Team (C-PORT).

Hamilton Diagnostics Center adds high definition MRI to diagnostic services.


Hamilton Medical Center receives full accreditation from the Accreditation Review Committee, making it the seventh accredited Chest Pain Center in Georgia and the 243rd in the nation.

The first coronary angioplasty/stent is performed at HMC as part of Hamilton’s participation in Georgia’s C-PORT program.

Hamilton adds a 64-slice computerized tomography (CT) system to its arsenal of diagnostic and imaging equipment, among the most advanced CT scanners in the world.

Hamilton Ambulatory Surgery Center is awarded the prestigious Summit Award by Press Ganey Associates, ranking it among the best centers in the nation for patient satisfaction, a designation the center has continued each year since.

Hamilton Medical Center earns Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval.


The Turner Maternal and Infant Care Center begins operation.

Hamilton Medical Center begins operation in its expanded and reconfigured Emergency Care Services Department. The renovations and expansion include three triage rooms, 35 private treatment rooms, four trauma suites, eight fast track rooms and 6-bed chest pain center, all arranged around a centralized nursing station.

Hamilton Weight Management, recognized nationally as a Bariatric Center of Excellence, began offering gastric bypass, in addition to the Lap-Band procedure.

Hamilton Medical Center, Hamilton Ambulatory Surgery Center and Royal Oaks campuses and buildings become tobacco-free facilities.

Hamilton Medical Center opens its dedicated outpatient Wound Care Center.


Partial Breast Radiation Therapy is introduced through the Hamilton Regional Cancer Institute to offer a higher dose, shorter radiation treatment plan for early stage, node-negative breast cancers.

Hamilton opens its Spine Care Center, focusing on conservative treatments by a multidisciplinary medical team and partnerships with primary care physicians.

Electrophysiology (EP) studies begin in a dedicated laboratory near the hospital’s Cardiology Department.

On-Board Imaging is added to the radiation cancer treatment arsenal at Hamilton’s Judd Cancer Center.

Hamilton Medical Center’s Ambulatory Infusion Center begins operating in expanded services and surroundings adjacent to the Judd Cancer Center.

Westcott Center receives Press Ganey Summit Award.

Stroke Program received Silver Award in 2008 from the American Heart Association.


Hamilton Convenient Care opens.

Hamilton’s Surgical Department added the da Vinci Surgical Robot, featuring advanced 3-D visualization capabilities.

Hamilton’s Wound Care Center adds Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and becomes known as Hamilton Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center.


Hamilton’s Dedicated Education Unit opens on the Westcott Beckler Morrison Unit, a partnership between HMC and Dalton State College Department of Nursing.

Hamilton opened a 12-bed Level II Neonatal Care Unit to care for premature, sick or low birth weight infants. Hamilton also added a special transport unit that enables the transfer of sick newborns from other locations to our facility.

Hamilton Physician Group was created as a venue for physician employment. The first group is Hamilton Cardiology Associates

Hamilton Specialty Imaging, dedicated to outpatient nuclear medicine studies and other cardiac diagnostic studies, opens.


Hamilton Medical Center receives Hospital of Distinction recognition from HealthGrades.

Hamilton is named a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit facility, allowing the hospital to care for infants delivered as early as 28 weeks gestation and weighing as little as two pounds.

Bradley Wellness Center adds massage therapy.


Hamilton Medical Center receives Hospital of Distinction recognition from HealthGrades.

Hamilton Physician Group adds Hamilton Primary Care.

Hamilton Medical Center completes major renovation of service level, including new cafeteria and meeting rooms.�

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