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Madigan turns 25

The future looks brighter

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Leslie Burger, former commander (1992-1994) Madigan Army Medical Center, gave the keynote address during Madigan’s 25th anniversary celebration. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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The "new" Madigan Army Medical Center turned 25 years old at exactly 10 a.m. this past Tuesday morning.

Two hours later, a celebration of the center's opening Feb. 28, 1992, began.

"I am still in awe of this place and what it stands for," commented Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Leslie Burger, who commanded Madigan from 1992 to 1994.

"It really brings back memories to be standing here today."

Joining the celebration were retired officers and enlisted soldiers, congressional aids, soldiers, current employees, local elected officials and patients.

Two stories up, individuals stood at the railings; others were seated in the Letterman Auditorium watching on a closed television system.

During the early 1940s, the Fort Lewis Station Hospital consisted of four separate sections.  Construction of the "Old Madigan" began in February 1944 and was named Madigan General Hospital in honor of Col. Patrick Madigan.

As the Army grew, it realized it needed to expand the Old Madigan to keep pace.

Washington's Congressional delegation took note and got to work.

"Senator Henry Jackson and Representative Norm Dicks presented the idea of a new hospital," Col. Michael Place, commander, Madigan Army Medical Center, told the assembled crowd.

Contractors broke ground in 1985 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 presented itself as the most modern, state-of-the-art military medical center.

"Ours is a history marked by medical advances," continued Place, and the goal was to be the Walter Reed of the West."

Along with the mall, the new medical center featured an eight-story inpatient tower with an unobstructed view of Mount Rainier, as well as logistics and ancillary buildings.

Construction costs were $95 million under the budgeted $280 million.

"I was here when this place was under construction," added Burger, as he spoke to the audience.

"The magic began to happen when this facility opened in 1992."

The magic laid the foundation of care with compassion.

Burger continued by saying that Madigan quickly established an unsurpassed reputation for medical care and innovation.

"It was one of the first facilities to be smoke-free; it was the first to stand up TRICARE; it was the first to receive and use digital imaging; and now it is on the cutting edge of electronic record keeping."

Currently, the Madigan Army Medical Center comprises a network of Army medical facilities in Washington and California that serve more than 100,000 active-duty servicemembers, their families and retirees.

A tertiary care facility, Madigan provides an array of medical service, 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 also one of two Level II trauma centers in the Army and one of four in Washington state.

"We are fortunate to be able to be a part of the profession of arms and the profession of medicine," Burger concluded.

"The next twenty-five years look brighter."

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