Dixie Regional Medical Center celebrates a century of care

ST. GEORGE – From humble beginnings in a retrofitted hotel with seven iron beds, Intermountain Healthcare Southwest Region at Dixie Regional Medical Center has grown into a technologically-advanced medical center with 245 beds on two campuses and full Life Flight service. And in 2013, staff, patients and the community will celebrate the institution’s 100-year milestone.

McGregor Hospital, St. George, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare Southwest Region at Dixie Regional Medical Center

“A movement is afoot in this city to establish a local hospital where cases that require surgical treatment may be taken care of without having to send them to Salt Lake City,” a 1912 advertisement read. “The proposition as outlined is for stock to be subscribed to the extent of $5,000 with which to purchase a building, etc., suitable for the purpose. It is believe that many would avail themselves of such an institution as patients and that the stock holders would get good returns on their investment.”

In November 1912, Dr. Frank J. Woodbury and his brother-in-law, Dr. Donald A. McGregor, ran that very advertisement in the Washington County Newspaper. In true Dixie spirit, $10,000 was quickly raised and the Washington County Hospital opened on Jul. 8, 1913, as the county’s first publicly funded community health care facility.

Two generations of McGregor doctors ran the Washington County Hospital (affectionately known as the McGregor Hospital) until it was replaced by the Dixie Pioneer Memorial Hospital in 1952. A 30-bed institution managed by the Washington County Commission, Dixie Pioneer Memorial reached capacity in under two decades. A new hospital, the 75-bed Dixie Medical Center, was financed prominently by community donations and was completed in 1975. It was located adjacently on the same city block, at 300 East 600 South.

Within months of opening, Dixie Medical Center was acquired by the newly formed Intermountain Healthcare hospital system. Technology and medicine advanced rapidly during this time and the hospital continued to expand in size and service, while maintaining the same caring environment.

Dixie Regional Medical Center, St. George, Utah, Oct. 24, 2012 | Photo courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare Southwest Region at Dixie Regional Medical Center

Unprecedented population growth in Southern Utah during the 1980s and 1990s led to the construction of a new hospital on River Road and 700 South. The campus, built through community donations of $11.7 million, was ranked this year as the 13th most beautiful hospital in the world by HealthExecNews.com.

Many festivities are planned for the yearlong anniversary celebration, with the grandest on Jul. 8, exactly 100 years from the date of the Washington County Hospital opening. A CareCentennial Live Well Expo on Mar. 2 and a performance from Brian Regan at Tuacahn on May 2 are also scheduled. The first Walk Washington County event will take place on Jan. 12 at 9 a.m. at the Dixie Regional Health and Performance Center. For more information about CareCentennial events, visit the website or call 435-251-3629.

“As we look back on the past century of care, we see that from the original stockholders of the Washington County Hospital to all who have influenced hospitals here up to the present day, a caring gift has been given to our community by our community: The gift of good health,” CEO and administrator of Intermountain’s DRMC, Terri Kane, said. “And that is a great reason to celebrate.”

Submitted by: Intermountain Healthcare Southwest Region at Dixie Regional Medical Center

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