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Healing heritage

ERMC facility latest in municipal hospital’s 80-year history
With progress comes betterment but it leaves nostalgia in its wake.
The new Ennis Regional Medical Center, now under construction, promises advanced technology and improved service capabilities. Yet locals may miss the site of the current hospital, situated in the medical compound that’s sprung up around it over three decades. A mainstay of local life, the area’s importance to Ennis healthcare and civic history is symbolized by the giant oak tree named in honor of the Percival family that shades the emergency room entrance; the tree is believed to be two centuries old. Even before the present complex at 803 W. Lampasas was built, a city-operated hospital has existed on the site for more than 80 years.
But as the 25 acres of former woodland located at the junction of Hwy 287 Bypass and Lampasas are taking rapid shape, there’s no diminishing the positive affect the new 102,000-sq. ft. community hospital will have. Scheduled to open in late summer 2007, the acute-care municipal facility will offer healthcare services on an unprecedented scale for citizens of the city and county, said Ennis Regional Medical Center officials.
“I am so excited and happy for the employees, staff, physicians, and patients of ERMC,” said Interim CEO Ruth McDaniel. “The new hospital is on schedule and, when completed, will provide the very best in healthcare for the folks in Ennis and the surrounding areas.”
City of Ennis statistics and projections for the new $35 million ERMC are impressive: a proposed staff of 187 employees will be able to perform an estimated 800 surgeries, 85 pediatric deliveries and 4,800 emergency room procedures in the new hospital, services which are expected to benefit the city in the amount of $90 million.
Such high volume patient care would have astounded –– and overwhelmed –– the nursing staff of the first Ennis Municipal Hospital, built by city engineer Hix McCanless in 1925. The oldest living employee of the original hospital, Zypher Collier, now 100 years old, recalled the stately red brick, three-story structure that cost the city a then whopping $50,000.
“People loved to come to the hospital then,” said Collier, who was an aid to Drs. D.L. Thomas and Walter McCall. “It was run by a nice bunch of people.”
The centenarian, who later became one of the first black vocational nurses in North Texas, said she also remembered drawing water from a well under the old Percival tree.
The new building off the Hwy. 287 Bypass will be missing the iconic tree but not the spirit of giving it represents, said McDaniel.
“The beautiful building is just the wrapping,” McDaniel said. “It’s what’s inside that really counts, and what’s inside is the latest in high-tech equipment, a staff trained to use it and nursing and ancillary staff who truly care about you. What this means to you is that you will be able to get the top quality healthcare you deserve right here at home.”
The existing ERMC, after the new building opens, will not be managed in competition with the hospital, representatives said. According to the website, www.ennisregional.com: ”The City of Ennis will use its best efforts to find a suitable reuse for the existing Ennis Regional Medical Center (perhaps a nursing home).” Demolition is a possibility, however, if no appropriate reuse is agreed upon for the site.
ERMC is managed by the LifePoint healthcare network, which owns 29 hospitals.

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Posted by on Dec 30 2006. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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