The medical 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 a 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 acquire 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. Assistance was also received 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 States to achieve 4.5 beds per 1,000 people. 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.
The expansion and modernization of the Emergency Department was made possible by a generous gift from the William N. and Myriam Pennington Foundation.
The hospital went through an extensive facility wide remodeling project.
The Boyd Infusion Center and Community Hospital Clinic in Wickenburg was opened to serve the needs of the community.
The Community Hospital Clinic in Congress opened along with the Laser & Rejuvenation Center in Wickenburg.
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, urological, podiatric, and cosmetic surgery. Spearheaded by WCH Foundation Board chairman at the time Art Ditto and previous WCH President & CEO Jim Tavary, a campaign to raise funds and expand got underway. Due to the generosity of individuals and businesses in the community $7.5 million was raised in funding and pledges. This helped convince the US Department of Agriculture to grant WCH a $16.7million loan. Ten million dollars of the loan went toward construction of the surgical and diagnostic center as well as a new medical office building, and the remainder was applied to refinance existing debt.
The new 10,500 sq. ft. surgical and diagnostic center opened, equipped with the latest technology and is staffed by two experienced surgeons who practice solely in Wickenburg – orthopedic surgeon Mitch Wagner, MD, and general surgeon Robert Ripley, MD. In addition, approximately 15 staff members are newly hired, including Lisa Erlinger PHD, CRNA, a certified registered nurse anesthetist who will also act as director of the surgical center. Three surgical nurses, two operating room technologists, one scrub tech and one nurse where also brought on board, along with five support staff for scheduling, billing and other office work, and one new housekeeping staffer. All of the surgical staff have years of experience in their respective fields, according to Director of Clinical and Surgical Services Richard Wedig.
The hospital expansion is a major milestone in the hospital’s growth. Chairman of the WCH Board of Directors Dee Pollock said “This achievement is certainly testimony to the power of great teamwork amongst many people. Makes one very proud to be a part of this team, and I think we are going to see enormous success in the months and years to come.”
April 2019 – Arizona’s 1st Telepharmacy located inside Congress Community Clinic.
Congress Clinic Pharmacy opened its doors providing pharmacy services to Congress, Arizona and its surrounding rural communities. Being a telepharmacy means that it will be staffed by a licensed pharmacy technician who will dispense medications, and the prescriptions will be verified by a pharmacist at our Wickenburg Community Hospital Pharmacy using a secure software system, called TelePharm. The Wickenburg Community Hospital pharmacist will also perform patient consultations through a secure video call.
The experience for patients is virtually the same as with any traditional pharmacy, aside from speaking to the pharmacist face to face via a HIPAA compliant video chat.
Located at 26750 B, Santa Fe Road Congress, AZ 85332 for all pharmacy needs beginning April 1st, 2019, Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00am and 5:00pm.
May of 2019, The Emergency Department Renovation began and was completed in January of 2020.
This renovation was a critical need for rural access to emergency care. The project was driven primarily by the need to accommodate a significant increase in utilization of the emergency department over the past 5 years; a trend that continues to climb as local population increases.
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