The medicinal arts as practiced in the Old West often meant the difference between life and death for American pioneers. Whether the challenge was sickness, an arrow, a gunshot wound, or a fall from a horse, a pioneer in the western territories required care for medical emergencies, but often had to make do until a doctor could be found.
In 1864 a U.S. Army post named Fort Whipple was established north of Wickenburg near Prescott, Arizona. The post served as the capital of the Arizona Territory until 1912 when Arizona became a state. One year later the post was retired and converted into a military hospital and used during World War I and World War II.
Likewise, the first hospital developed south of Wickenburg emerged in 1895. It originated through the Sisters of Mercy who initially arrived in Phoenix, Arizona to open a parish school. After observing the suffering of many tuberculosis victims, the Sisters of Mercy decided to raise funds, rent a six bedroom brick cottage, and equip each room with two beds for tuberculosis patients. Thus, St. Joseph’s Sanitarium was born.
In 1936 Dr. James Copeland and his wife owned and operated the local hospital. At that time only three doctors practiced medicine in Wickenburg. In 1937 Dr. Copeland getting on in years, first leased and later sold the hospital to Dr. Floyd Bralliar. Dr. Bralliar quickly added six rooms, which increased the bed capacity from ten to twenty.
Dr. Bralliar owned and operated the hospital for almost ten years. During this time he performed surgery daily, mostly under spinal anesthesia and later it was reported that he trained his nurse to give Pentothal.
In 1945 Dr. Bralliar was involved in a plane crash and was unable to operate the hospital for one year while recovering. For a short period of time the hospital ran under the supervision of a licensed practical nurse, however with Dr. Bralliar unable to resume operations, the hospital was in danger of closing.
A local man, Mr. Ewald Stein learned of the problem and steadfastly led a drive to save the hospital. Assisting him were two well-known Wickenburg gentlemen, Mr. C.W. (Wes) Paige and Mr. Hal Warner. The three formed the original Community Hospital Association, Inc., now doing business as the Wickenburg Community Hospital. These men undertook the task of persuading the community to acquisition and save the local hospital. This was not an easy endeavor. According to Mr. Stein, many people argued against purchasing the hospital and felt it wasn’t needed. After numerous public meetings and much salesmanship, the group gained authority to raise $25,000.00 through the sale of $1.00 ten year bonds to purchase the hospital from Dr. Bralliar.
The Community Hospital Association, Inc. set up bylaws and appointed a Board of Directors to run the hospital. In time the Board hired its first administrator. The Hospital was running so successfully, it was able to redeem all bonds after only two years and celebrated by throwing a bond burning party.
In 1954 the Board of Directors made plans to increase the size and services of the hospital. Another bond drive was led by Mr. Harold Eckhart to help finance the construction of a new facility. Also assistance from the Hill-Burton Act, a U.S. federal law passed in 1946 in response to the first of President Truman’s proposals to provide federal grants and guaranteed loans to improve the physical plant of the nation’s hospital system. The money was designated to the states to achieve 4.5 beds per 1,000 people. The states allocated available money to their various municipalities.
In 1957 the new hospital was constructed at its present location on land donated by Dr. Bralliar.
In 1984 a forty-bed nursing home wing was added. The wing was made possible by a generous commemorative gift by local resident Mrs. Viola Wellik. A treatment wing was also added to the original building.
In 1986 major reconstruction of the Emergency Department was completed.
1988 – 1995 The Wickenburg Regional Health Care Foundation was created to assure the continuance of quality health care for Wickenburg and the surrounding region with supplemental funds through philanthropy. Now operating as the Wickenburg Community Hospital Foundation, it continues ongoing philanthropic support to fund vitally important healthcare facilities, equipment, and wellness services for the hospital.
Expansion and modernization projects completed during this time include the laboratory, nursing home, radiology department, mammography machine, ophthalmic stretcher, physical therapy, memorial courtyard, plus ongoing development, operation, and maintenance of services.
In 1996 expansion and modernization of the Emergency Department was made possible by a generous gift from the William N. and Myriam Pennington Foundation.
In 2004 the hospital went through an extensive facility wide remodeling project.
2010 the Boyd Infusion Center and Community Hospital Clinic in Wickenburg was opened to serve the needs of the community.
2012 the Community Hospital Clinic in Congress opened along with the Laser & Rejuvenation Center. The Hospital Board of Directors authorized the development of a new Surgical And Diagnostic Center to provide a variety of needed services including orthopedic and general surgery, diagnostic and treatment scopes, optical, urologic, podiatric, and cosmetic surgery.
Funding and building a state-of-the-art surgical center capable of offering such an extensive menu of medical services was made possible by the extraordinary support and generosity of the community. At the request of the Hospital Board, the Board of Directors of the Wickenburg Community Hospital Foundation consented to shoulder the burden of a $7.5 million capital campaign to provide the funding needed to make the surgical center a reality. Incredibly, people from all walks of life demonstrated support for such services needed closer to home. The Foundation received gifts of $10 to $2.5 million in many forms as one-time gifts, multi-year pledges, gifts from community-based and Phoenix-based charitable foundations, challenge gifts and pledges, auction items, payroll withholding from hospital employees, and gifts of time, talent, and creativity.
2015 the targeted $7.5 million capital campaign was met. Consequently, the Hospital was able to apply and receive approval for a US Department of Agriculture loan for almost $17 million to construct and equip two new buildings – a surgical and diagnostic center and a second medical office building – as well as refinance two long-term debts currently held by the hospital. Construction of the medical office building and surgical and diagnostic center was completed May and August 2016 respectively.
Community Hospital Clinics are located in Wickenburg, Wittmann, and Congress. We sincerely follow our mission to provide quality health and wellness services where the patient, family, and community come first.Read More
Our 8 bed Emergency Room department is fully staffed with emergency physicians, nurses, and ER specialists. Your wait time is typically measured in minutes not hours as in the larger metropolitan hospitals.Read More