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 the new Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital Vanderbilt at Williamson Medical Center 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 pediatric emergency and inpatient services.
The Bone and Joint Institute of Tennessee, in partnership with Williamson Medical Center, opened their new facility on May 20, 2019, on the campus of Williamson Medical Center.
“The new Bone and Joint Institute is a destination for comprehensive orthopaedic excellence designed to serve the entire region,” said Darren Harris, CEO of the Bone and Joint Institute of Tennessee. “Our plan was to bring some of the nation’s best orthopaedists and state-of-the-art technology to our patients, who come to us from all over Middle Tennessee and even out of state. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
The Bone and Joint Institute of Tennessee’s 121,252 square foot facility was designed as a destination for orthopaedic excellence. The new facility will include physician offices, physical and occupational therapy, outpatient imaging services and an outpatient surgery center all under one roof to better serve patients. The outpatient surgery center will be able to accommodate a 23-hour observational stay for patients. The Institute will continue to offer an after-hours injury clinic for unexpected orthopaedic emergencies.
On April 4, 2022, Williamson Medical Center leadership, elected officials, and more than 100 community members gathered to celebrate the beginning of construction for the largest renovation and expansion project in the hospital’s history.
“Today was an exciting day for our community,” said Phil Mazzuca, WMC CEO. “This event is a significant milestone for Williamson County as it marks the beginning of a transformational plan to ensure Williamson Medical Center continues to be the high-quality, high-satisfaction healthcare provider in our region for many years to come. Once completed, we will have facilities that match the expertise of our providers. As only one of three hospitals in Tennessee with a 5-Star Rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, we already offer best-in-class quality care. Now, our facilities will be keeping up with the growth of the community.”
Joining Mazzuca were Caroline Bryan and Vicki McNamara who serve as co-chairs for Williamson Medical Center Foundation’s “More for You. Close to Home.” capital campaign, which will help fund the project. Honorary co-chair, country music star Luke Bryan also participated in the groundbreaking ceremony. “When Luke and I were looking for a place to plant our roots, one of the primary drivers was proximity to a hospital,” said Caroline Bryan. “We always feel welcome and at home at Williamson Medical Center. This is our community, this is our hospital, and we are proud to support this project.”
WMC EMS celebrated its 50th anniversary in July of 2022, having answered the community’s calls for lifesaving care since 1972. It is the county’s primary 911 emergency medical provider. Today,WMC EMS employs more than 150 Advanced EMTs, paramedics, critical care paramedics and support personnel.
WMC EMS is the first and only 911 ground EMS provider in the state approved by theTennessee Department of Health EMS Board to carry and administer blood products in the field. Furthermore, WMC EMS is one of only seven across the country authorized to give blood to patients before arrival at the hospital.
While air medical transports have routinely carried blood products for years, it is not a common practice for ground-based community ambulances. To obtain approval, the WMC EMS team first completed a pilot project with the state EMS board before being granted permanent approval. Paramedics also took part in rigorous training focused on blood products.
Facts adapted from Physicians of Williamson County, A Legacy of Healing 1797-1997, by Hudson Alexander.