History of Williamson Medical Center
Williamson Medical Center was the brainchild of Dr. J.O. Walker, who, in 1954, decided Williamson County needed its own medical facility.
He introduced legislation that was passed in 1957 by the General Assembly that officially established Williamson County Hospital. Soon after the bill was approved, construction began on the land at Carter’s Creek Pike in Franklin, and Walker would be named the facility’s first Chief of Staff.
On January 15, 1958, Dan German Hospital and the Pyle Hospital closed their doors and were replaced by the 50-bed Williamson County Hospital. Booklets were circulated to the community declaring the hospital was “dedicated for the benefit of humanity.” Inside these booklets were photographs of the new facility along with information about the services provided and a list of staff members-a distant cousin to today’s online physician directory, which is a staple to residents of this county.
On January 14, the night before the hospital would open to the public, patients were moved to the new hospital by ambulance and the operating room was christened with an emergency appendectomy performed by Dr. Harry Guffee. Opening day also saw the hospital’s first birth.
During its first year of service, 2,870 patients were admitted to Williamson County Hospital. In addition to staff physicians, there were 53 employees serving throughout the three-story building. That first year also saw 890 cases treated in the Emergency Room, 655 surgical procedures performed and 395 births.
Right out of the gate, the hospital became known for its high level of patient care. Patients experienced a friendly, family-type atmosphere according to some early reviews of the facility. “One of the nurses at the time, Miss Lena Reynolds, was particularly noted for her personal visits to the patients; however all of the staff members made a great effort to have each patient feel that they were being cared for in a special way,” one review stated.
Within one year, the hospital was listed as being among the county’s largest industries with 68 employees and an operating budget of $150,000. The following year, the facility received full accreditation by The Joint Commission for County Hospitals.
The hospital’s first expansion happened after operating for a year at capacity. The new West Wing that was added to the hospital featured a basement and a first and second floor. Housekeeping occupied the basement, while the upper floors operated as patient units.
The addition opened to the public in 1967 and added 32 beds to the facility, bringing the total to 82 patient beds.
In 1968, the hospital’s first critical care unit opened under the direction of Dr. Robert Hollister. This first CCU housed four beds, two of them monitored directly through a connection with Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville. The unit also had a phone line connected to Vanderbilt in case of emergency needs.
During these initial years, semi-private rooms cost $17, private rooms with a full bath ran upwards of $22 per night. A major operation lasting two to three hours cost $60 and delivering a baby the old fashioned way ran $20.
1971 was the facility’s second expansion where a third and fourth floor were added to the West Wing adding 32 additional patient beds.
At the hospital’s 20-year anniversary in 1978, a number of employee service awards were handed out to honor employees who had been with the hospital since its inception. These service awards are still handed out today to employees reaching employment milestones in the hospital.
Also in 1978, the building saw its third expansion project, a new patient tower bringing the hospital capacity to 182 beds along with expanded X-ray facilities and nuclear medicine.
By 1986, the bustling county’s population was busting at the seams, and had outgrown its only hospital. Under the leadership of hospital Board of Trustees member David Buchanan, a new building was built and the hospital relocated from its original location to its present spot at the intersection of Highway 96 and Carothers Parkway in Franklin. The doors of the new $26.5 million state-of-the-art medical center opened in August of 1986.
Williamson County Hospital became known as Williamson Medical Center, and the original 144-bed, 155,000-square-foot facility today houses 185 beds in 260,000 square feet.
In the fall of 2013, after years of negotiating and planning, WMC announced a partnership with Vanderbilt Medical Center to construct a Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital on the campus of Williamson Medical Center. This ground breaking ceremony marked the first time the brand’s legendary paper doll trademark was placed on the side of a building outside Nashville. This expansion effort also included an East tower that expanded the surgery department as well.
July 1 of 2015, Williamson Medical Center celebrated its new children’s hospital with a massive grand opening. The warm summer day welcomed thousands from the community who came with their families in tow to get a glimpse of the county’s first dedicated children’s hospital and emergency department.
Today, Williamson Medical Center offers comprehensive inpatient and outpatient services, 24-hour emergency care for both adults and children, preventive health screenings and wellness activities. Services offered by Williamson Medical Center are developed to provide the most cost-effective, convenient and accessible health care possible.
More than 600 outstanding physicians represent more than 70 medical specialties and sub-specialties. The caliber of physicians and care at Williamson Medical Center offers patients a level of expertise and sophistication one expects to find at larger facilities, but with compassion and convenience unique to WMC.
Williamson Medical Center’s dedication to quality and standards of excellence has earned the hospital full accreditation by The Joint Commission. Accreditation also has been given to the Medical Center’s Laboratory by the College of American Pathologists, Cancer Program by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons, Mammography by the American College of Radiology, Breast Health Center by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, diabetes education by the American Diabetes Association, the Chest Pain Center by the Society of Chest Pain Centers, and Cardiac Rehabilitation Phase II program by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. In addition, WMC’s Emergency Medical Services holds the highest rating possible from the Tennessee Department of Health, and WMC has been recognized as one of the top Tennessee hospitals regarding surgical processes by QSource, the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization for Tennessee.
Facts adapted from Physicians of Williamson County, A Legacy of Healing 1797-1997, by Hudson Alexander.