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A short history of Coffee Regional Medical Center

For a more detailed history, click here.

The history of Coffee Regional Medical Center reflects and has helped shape the enormous changes in healthcare in the region.  

Birth of Douglas Hospital

Although Coffee County, and particularly the county seat of Douglas, had well-trained doctors from the late 1800s, the only “hospitals” were small, private facilities – one in a doctor’s own home – that could not be long sustained. In 1932, a small clinic was established by two nurses on the site of what is now Becky’s Antiques, paving the way for what eventually became CRMC. Based on this clinic, the city donated land on East Ward Street for construction of Douglas Hospital. It opened in 1935. Within a decade, need had outgrown the small, $30,000 facility.

Time to grow

In 1946, the newly created Coffee County Hospital Authority applied for federal funds available through the recently passed Hill-Burton Act, designed to help states improve the nation’s hospital system. Citizens voted overwhelmingly to provide necessary matching funds. In October 1953, at the dedication of the new three-story, 60-bed, almost $1 million hospital, Governor Herman Talmadge called it “not only one of the most beautiful, but also the most modern and best equipped hospitals in the country,” showing “what is possible with cooperation.”

And grow again

Over the next 40 years, Coffee General Hospital, as it was renamed in 1968, continued to grow.  By 1975, it had 155 beds, an intensive care unit and emergency room. In 1983, administrative and diagnostic radiology wings were added. But it was increasingly hard for the 1953 building to keep up with community needs, space demands of the new technology continually coming on board, even changing building codes. In 1994, the Hospital Authority voted to restructure what was by then called Coffee Regional Hospital by forming a new community-based, non-profit corporate structure that would allow the hospital to be financially self-sufficient. Construction began on the current medical center, which opened in 1998, the only new medical center building in the state built in the 1990s. At 170,000 square feet, it was approximately 50 percent bigger than its 1953 predecessor. Moreover, it had room for 700 health professionals providing emergency, inpatient, and outpatient services. These services grew increasingly broad and complex, from cardiac catheterization to spine surgery, and utilized the most up to date imaging, robot and other technology. Digital technology, such as telemedicine, further broadened the hospital’s reach, by allowing its clinicians to confer with medical professionals all over the country. In fact, as President/CEO George Heck says proudly, CRMC is one of the most technologically advanced facilities of its kind in Georgia – and it’s committed to continued growth as the community grows and as new advances in healthcare become available.

CRMC Board of Directors Chairman Gabe Evans,  “Thanks to Coffee Regional Medical Center’s committed clinicians and staff, and to the longstanding support of the community, CRMC continues to provide our citizens the highest quality healthcare.  It is a vital part of what makes this area such a wonderful place to live and do business.”