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Madigan's history

From dispensaries to medical center

Madigan Medical Center opened in 1992. Photo credit: Madigan Army Medical Center PAO

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Army Medicine was at Camp Lewis from the very beginning in 1917. Renamed Fort Lewis in 1927, the Station Hospital had several "dispensaries" located around the fort.

Construction of the original Madigan General Hospital began in July 1943 during the height of World War II as a semi-permanent emergency hospital plan type, developed by the War Department officially called a "Type A Mobilization General Hospital." In February 1944 the all-brick, 1.5-mile long, multi-corridored hospital was occupied and all sections around Fort Lewis were consolidated under one command of the General Hospital.

On Sept. 22, 1944, War Department General Order Number 76 officially re-designated Fort Lewis General Hospital as Madigan General Hospital, after Colonel Patrick S. Madigan who died suddenly that same year. Madigan General Hospital was formally dedicated in August 1945, and named in honor of Doctor Madigan, a Medical Corps Officer who is known as the Father of Army Neuropsychiatry.

During World War II, Madigan General Hospital cared for more than 7,000 patients and also cared for repatriated Americans from Japanese prison camps after the war was won. Other missions Madigan General Hospital accomplished during the war was as a nurse-training center with the attached Ninth Service Command Army Training Center training up to four hundred nurses for wartime deployment.

For the remainder of World War II, and during the Korean Conflict and Vietnam War as well, Madigan General Hospital served as a debarkation hospital for the ports of Tacoma, Portland and Seattle, and an evacuation hospital for combat wounded from the front lines.

Madigan General Hospital continued to grow over the years with many modernizations, upgrades and additions including the OB/GYN service in 1950, plus many other specialty clinics. In March 1973, Madigan was re-designated a Medical Center assuming military health care for beneficiaries in Alaska and the four Northwestern States.

In 1985, ground was broken for a new 1.2 million square foot, 414-bed medical center. On Feb. 28, 1992, Madigan held a formal ribbon cutting ceremony in the medical mall and opened its doors to outpatients the next month as the most modern, state-of-art military medical center consisting of a medical mall, 8-story inpatient tower, logistics and ancillary buildings. Construction cost was approved for $280 million, but completed $95 million under budget due to the innovative approach of incremental funding.

Madigan participated in a unique partnership created in the late 1990s, called the Tacoma Trauma Trust. In the late 1990s, Madigan earned its trauma II certification and partnered with two civilian hospitals in Tacoma; St. Josephs Medical Center and Tacoma General Hospital to provide care to trauma victims beyond the gates of then Fort Lewis. Previous to this time, most trauma patients, including military were transported to Seattle. The three hospitals banded together to partner in trauma care and emergency medicine. For Madigan this was a huge step into an area no military treatment facility had taken, which was to care for non-beneficiary patients in need of emergency care. Over the years Madigan has remained a key partner in this relationship helping to further the training and experience for military trauma doctors and nurses through this collaborative relationship.

In December 2005, Madigan was awarded the Army Superior Unit Award for the period of Dec. 1, 2002, through Jan. 31, 2004, for displaying outstanding military performance while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, providing deployment and readiness medicine while supporting critical missions as part of a power projection platform.

As part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act, Madigan began operating the McChord Air Force Base Medical Clinic in 2008. In January 2010, Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base merged into Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Madigan Army Medical Center continued to serve as the headquarters for the Western Regional Medical Command until 2009, when the Regional headquarters split with Madigan as part of the U.S. Army Medical Command's reorganization.

Today, Madigan Army Medical Center is a system for health with medical facilities in Washington and California serving more than 100,000 active-duty servicemembers, retirees and their families. Much like its civilian counterparts, Madigan Army Medical Center is a tertiary care center providing a wide array of medical services, such as general medical and surgical care, patient-centered adult and pediatric primary care, a 24-hour emergency room, specialty clinics, behavioral health and wellness services. Madigan is proud to be a part of a dominant power projection platform. Madigan Army Medical Center has been a provider of safe, quality care; an unparalleled education facility; a state-of-the-art research platform; a leader in readiness & deployment medicine, and an engaged community partner since 1944. For Madigan, "Care with Compassion" is more than a motto; it's a way of life.

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