Habersham Medical Center began services to the citizens of Northeast Georgia on July 1, 1952 under the name Habersham County General Hospital. Inception, planning and construction of the hospital resulted from close cooperation of community leaders and medical professionals.
Taking a look back at Habersham Medical Center’s history...
As told by local historians, Clarkesville resident James Randolph (J.R.) Reeves’ daughter became very ill and almost didn’t make it to the closest hospital in Atlanta for treatment. At the time, there was not a hospital in Habersham, Hall or surrounding counties. After his daughter recovered, Mr. Reeves began working with community leaders to open a local hospital that would benefit area residents for many generations to come.
The hospital opened in 1952 with 43 beds, a laboratory, X-ray facilities, emergency services, an operating room and obstetrics. It was accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations in 1955; the first rural hospital in Georgia to earn this accreditation. In 1965, 16 beds were added along with a pharmacy and expanded facilities for obstetrics and the laboratory. Habersham Home, a 42-bed long-term care facility, opened in 1969, doubling in size in 1981. The current Habersham Home East Wing is in the original hospital building from the early 1950s.
Services expanded to include a recovery room in 1965; physical therapy and respiratory therapy in 1970; coronary care in 1973; hospital-based ambulance services in 1974; a nursery in 1977 and nuclear medicine and ultrasound in 1979. Before the hospital took over management of the ambulance service, this service was provided by local funeral homes.
Celebrating more than six decades of service, Habersham Medical Center continues to transform rural health care to meet the growing needs of the community by adding services and expanding the facility.
The next facility expansion occurred in 1976 to house emergency services, physical therapy, respiratory therapy and a nursery. And another major renovation project was initiated in 1979; further modernizing, upgrading and beautifying the hospital and adding a front lobby for visitors.
The Hospital Authority of Habersham County signed a management contract with the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) in 1978. Although HCA provided the management team – the CEO and CFO – to facilitate the day-to-day operations, the Hospital Authority retained all the authority, responsibility and policy making powers granted under its by-laws. The Hospital Authority discontinued its management contract with Quorum Health Resources (QHR), a spin-off organization of HCA, in 2013.
Furthermore, the Hospital Authority embarked upon a $14.7 million expansion/renovation from 1988 to 1991. This project included the opening of Habersham Terraces, a 22-bed assisted living facility located behind the hospital. Habersham Terraces closed in 2007. The early 90s expansion also included a new main entrance area as well as a new outpatient surgery clinic.
The last major expansion, completed in 2008 at an investment of $38 million, was the largest of the medical center’s history with the addition of a new 16,467 square foot emergency department and a 39,628 square foot west wing that includes a 24- private bed outpatient surgery center. This expansion also included adding three labor and delivery rooms and expanding the Family Birth Center waiting area and adding two additional operating rooms in the surgical suite and a new Computed Tomography (CT) Scanner and a new Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) unit.
The Medical Center also changed its name in 2008 to Habersham Medical Center dropping the word “county” and changed its logo to reflect its new modern facility and regional focus.
Throughout the Medical Center’s expansive history, great strides have been made in enhancing patient safety and quality. Habersham Medical Center was named in the Georgia Hospital Association’s Circle of Excellence and was ranked in the top 10 percent of U.S. hospitals for stroke care by the US News and World Report. The team of more than 700 employees and 40 physicians is dedicated to maintaining and growing the award-winning healthcare system for many years to come.