Memorial Hospital of Converse County's rich history starts like many hospitals of the Old West—out of desperation. In the late 1800s Douglas, Wyoming, was the end of the line for the railroad. Prospectors, land men, and immigrants all found themselves departing the train in Douglas, looking for a new life or for alternative routes through the West. At that time, agriculture was limited to huge ranches that spanned the county and healthcare was left up to fate and home remedies.
Concerned that Douglas did not have a real doctor, area ranchers pooled their money together to bring a doctor to Douglas from back east. Families who paid to bring the doctor were able to use his services. Over time, more physicians moved to Douglas, establishing individual practices, working out of the homes of the sick or from their own offices.
Memorial Hospital was established in 1942. The hospital was located at a World War II prisoner of war camp infirmary just outside of Douglas (see photo at top of page). In 1950, a new "modern" hospital was built just east of downtown. The building served as the hospital until 1983, when construction was completed on the current 4-story hospital building. In 2001, the hospital officially changed its name to Memorial Hospital of Converse County and opened a new 2-story wing and new hospital entrance.
As a critical-access hospital, Memorial Hospital began to thrive and was asked to take over management of the county's ambulance service in 2006. In 2008, state-of-the-art surgery suites were opened, attracting surgeons from area hospitals, bolstering patient numbers, and furthering Memorial Hospital's reputation of providing advanced medicine and hometown care. Memorial Hospital implemented electronic medical records and invested in other technologies designed to carry the hospital into the future.
2012 marked Memorial Hospital's 70th year of service in Converse County. The hospital opened a new pharmacy, completed remodeling efforts in the radiology department, opened a new dedicated surgery suite in the birthing center and went live with eICU on the patient floor. Energy companies from the northern part of the state asked Memorial Hospital to be part of their employee wellness programs, and bolder community events drew friends and neighbors closer to the hospital. 2012 also marked the beginning of significant change in how Memorial Hospital staff interacted with patients, shifting focus toward the patient experience.
In 2013, the hospital partnered with the Studer Group to help focus efforts on quality improvement, new values and behavioral standards were established, and the hospital's robotic surgery program was launched with the purchase of Wyoming's 1st and only da Vinci Si Surgical System.
Memorial Hospital's Medical Office Building was opened in March of 2014. The $6.8 million facility is home to all the hospital's doctors and providers, wellness clinic and urgent care. Recognizing there is always room for improvement, the hospital celebrates all it has accomplished and looks forward to one day realizing their dream of becoming "The Best Healthcare Organization in Wyoming."
All photos provided courtesy of the Wyoming Pioneer Memorial Museum, Douglas, Wyoming.