"We are so thrilled to have this open," said Moore County Hospital District (MCHD) CEO Jeff Turner Monday shortly before cutting a ribbon to mark the formal opening of the new patient care wing of Memorial Hospital. "I describe it as kind of a time warp when you go from the old building into the new." He contrasted the narrow, dark halls of the old facility, which opened in 1949, with the wide halls and bright, natural light of the new, which, he said was "designed for a more modern delivery system of healthcare." He added, "It has just really been remarkable, and we feel really blessed to have this wonderful facility and to be able to share it with our community."
The new wing opened for patients on Tuesday, January 12; physicians performed the first surgery on Wednesday. The old building has been de-certified and will be renovated and used for nursing education, among other things.
The opening comes after a long struggle and some controversy. Voters rejected a bond measure to build a completely new hospital to replace the aging Memorial Hospital, which Turner and supporters said was no longer adequate for providing high quality care and was a definite drawback when trying to recruit physicians to Dumas. Turner found an alternate way to fund a scaled down version of a new hospital, and construction began two years ago, but the project was plagued by delays, construction problems, and struggles with contractors. It seemed at times like the opening might never come. Turner and supporters persisted, however, and on Monday he was in a grateful mood. "I want to thank an awful lot of people. This has been a tremendous team effort," he said. Among others, he thanked the hospital board members for their "vision and determination" and the medical staff, which "stood by and supported us."
The new wing has been furnished and equipped in large measure with money raised by the Moore County Health Foundation from local businesses, foundations, and individuals. Valero and JBS made contributions in excess of $250,000. "I am grateful to each and every one who participated in that effort," said Turner.
Turner added that the new facility had been decorated with original works from local artists. "We are trying to tell the story of who we are in the Texas Panhandle."