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History

  • Washington Regional Medical Center opened as Washington County Hospital in 1950 as an acute care facility with 50 beds on the corner of College Avenue and North Street in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  In August 2002, the new Washington Regional Medical Center opened with 233 beds on North Hills Boulevard. 

Throughout the years Washington Regional has maintained its place as a progressive leader in health care in Northwest Arkansas.  Today, the medical center is part of a comprehensive health care system that includes Fayetteville City Hospital, Brookstone Assisted Living, North Hills Surgery Center, Dialysis Centers of NWA and a network of clinics and services in Northwest Arkansas.

Washington Regional Medical Center is the region's only not-for-profit; community owned and locally governed hospital. 

Washington Regional Medical Center Timeline

  • 1947 Washington County Judge Witt Carter appointed a county hospital commission to study the possibility of building a second hospital in Fayetteville to relieve overcrowding at City Hospital.

  • 1948 Architect Paul Young Jr. completed hospital design.

  • 1950 August 28, Washington County Hospital opens for business with 50 beds.  George Berryman of Dallas is named as the first hospital administrator.  From August 1950-August 1951, 499 babies are born at Washington County Hospital.

  • 1953 Polio ward opened. First polio patient admitted August 14, 1953.  Washington County Hospital's first auxiliary was formed with a nucleus of 11 women and Benny Carlisle, administrator.

  • 1954 Employees began fund-raising efforts to install individual air conditioning units in rooms.

  • 1955 Washington County Hospital had 60 employees with an annual payroll of $120,000. There were 33 physicians and 38 nurses and nurses' aides.

  • 1957 Cable television installed in patient rooms.

  • 1959 New two-story wing to the east and 2nd floor over existing hospital was completed.  The new addition added 100 new beds, which doubled the hospital's capacity.

  • 1961 Washington County Hospital's name changed to Washington General Hospital.

  • 1962 Pharmacy department added.

  • 1966 Hospital delivered 900 babies.  A new telephone system that let patients dial without going through the hospital switchboard was installed.  Expansion of 4th and 5th floor east wing completed.

  • 1969 Washington General Hospital participated in preliminary plans to establish a two-year Associate Degree of Nursing program at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.  Candy Stripers, summer youth volunteer program was started.  After a crisis involving a lack of ambulance service (a station wagon was being used in emergencies), the ambulance service became a hospital-based service.

  • 1971 Cobalt unit for cancer patients passed inspection by the Arkansas Department of Health.

  • 1972 The active medical staff included 63 physicians and dentists.  Candy Stripers, summer youth volunteer program, admitted first boys.  The first patient brought by helicopter was admitted. The chopper landed on the empty parking lot at the Bullington property located south of the hospital.

  • 1973 Washington General Hospital changed name to Washington Regional Medical Center.  Community fund-raising began for a $12-million expansion plan that would include a patient tower, a new parking plaza, remodeling of the older section, and renovation and updating of almost every hospital service, with additional space for coronary care and intensive care. First major donation from physicians was $50,000 from Drs. Andy and Mae Nettleship, Fayetteville pathologists.  Kidney dialysis unit opened with one patient, a nurse, and two dialysis machines.

  • 1975 Washington Regional Medical Center expanded to a 240-bed facility.

  • 1977 CT scanner and ultrasound equipment became operational.

  • 1978 East Tower opened with dedication on July 16. The expansion of the East Tower included the dietary department, patient rooms on the 4th floor, parking deck, X-ray department, and the bridge that connected the old and new buildings.  Washington Regional opened a fully equipped heart catheterization laboratory.  A new emergency department and 4th floor Pediatrics was completed.

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  • 1979 Physician staff totaled 120.  WRMC was the first hospital in state to have birthing rooms.  One-day birthing was instituted and One-Day Surgery service began. 

  • 1980 1,267 babies were born at Washington Regional Medical Center.

  • 1981 Emergency Department became a Level II Trauma Center.

  • 1982 Completion of the East Tower expansion ended with the 6th Floor opening for operation, adding 44 obstetric and gynecological beds.

  • 1983 WRMC had 826 full and part-time employees. Thirty medical specialties represented by 135 physicians. New neurological floor and intensive care step-down unit opened at 2 West, adding 22 beds for a total of 272.

  • 1985 WRMC Hospice became first Medicare-certified program in Arkansas. 

  • 1987 Medical staff totaled 160.  Center for Exercise opened at a facility in the shopping center at Township and Gregg streets.  Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) transported to Washington Regional.  Sleep Disorder Center opened, one of only 100 in the U.S. at the time.

  • 1989 Washington Regional Medical Center became a smoke-free institution.

  • 1990 Washington Regional and Fayetteville City Hospital announced an agreement to share operating room space at City Hospital, to help ease the volume of surgeries performed at WRMC's main facility.

  • 1991 WRMC went back to using cloth diapers for newborns to become more environmentally safe.  Hyperbaric oxygen service (HBO), a medical treatment that enhances the body's ability to provide oxygen to tissues, w»as available in Northwest Arkansas at WRMC.   Renovation of 6th floor (women's unit) to accommodate an increasing number of women seeking services was completed.

  • 1993 Open-heart surgery started at Washington Regional.

  • 1994 Washington Regional's Kids for Health, a health education program for school children, began as a pilot project at Prairie Grove and West Fork schools, and at Jefferson Elementary in Fayetteville with about 1,000 children participating.

  • 1995 Cancer Support Home in Fayetteville opened.

  • 1999 Groundbreaking for new Washington Regional Medical Center replacement facility at North Hills Medical Park occurred.

  • 2002 New Washington Regional Medical Center, encompassing 345,000 square feet, opened on August 27.  300 physicians were on the medical staff. 
    • New facility included the Johnelle Hunt Women's Center and the Walker Heart Institute. Complex fiber optics infrastructure was installed to make the new technology possible.  This state-of-the-art system, known as "GigaMAN," expanded broadband capabilities making Washington the first business in Arkansas to have a GigaMAN connection.
    • The use of IP Telephony was implemented.  Washington Regional was the first hospital of its size in the nation that went to full IP Telephony--a system that allowed computers to be used as telephones and telephones to be used as handheld computers.
    • In addition, a $1 Million Picture Archival Communication System was also in place. It allowed for improved communication with two-way video-conferencing and distance-learning capabilities. Physicians were able to provide critical information to their peers without leaving their medical facility. The PAC System also used in Imaging Services, where X-rays can be taken, stored and read digitally instead of on film. Washington Regional Medical Center was the first public hospital in Northwest Arkansas to go completely film-less with the new system.

Washington Regional also operated the 1125 North College facility which included several ancillary departments.

  • 2003 Announcement of a new agreement with Arkansas Children's Hospital, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Department of Pediatrics and Washington Regional Medical Center-the first of its kind in the state. 

Washington Regional broke ground for a new medical office building which would be adjacent to the Walker Heart Institute.

  • 2004 Washington Regional held grand opening for New Center for Health Services.  This building connected by a skywalk to the Heart Institute provides convenience for cardiac patients and physicians.  Dedication of the "Words for Healing" fountain, designed by local artist Hank Kaminsky, was held in tribute to the Walker family. 

 Hospital opened a new lab facility at the Center for Health Services.

  • 2005 Washington Regional selected Cerner as Clinical Information Systems provider to modernize the delivery of care by unifying its clinical, laboratory, pharmacy, radiology, and surgery departments through the use of electronic health records.  Implementation was to span over three years with the first phase beginning August 2005.

Based on growth and market projection, WRMC began plans for an expansion to include a new patient floor, an expanded emergency department, a senior health center, expanded kitchen, warehouse and storage space, pharmacy and an administrative services building to consolidate all support services to the North Hills campus.

Washington Regional announced the development of services to improve healthcare for adults aged 65+ with the new Washington Regional Clinic for Seniors.  The clinic included the addition of three clinicians to its team of medical practitioners, two fellowship trained geriatricians and a fellowship trained neuropsychologist.

WRMC installed the Vocera Communication System, featuring a lightweight wearable badge that enables instant voice communication over a wireless network.

Washington Regional implemented a Smoke Free Campus.

A new Intensivist Program was instituted in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit. Physicians who specialize in caring for critically ill patients, (Intensivists), coordinate the care provided by nurses, respiratory therapists and others, as needed by the patient. 

WRMC opened a new inpatient unit (ACE, Acute Care of the Elderly) designed for the care of the older patient.

  • 2006 Washington Regional granted permanent easement and tree preservation area to City of Fayetteville for Scull Creek Trail Project.

WRMC began a Rapid Response Team (T-Rex, Team Response to Extremes), the first one in Northwest Arkansas.  This team was established to identify potential patient problems before they become actual problems. 

Washington Regional announced a $4 million gift from the Walker Family Foundation - the largest gift Washington Regional has ever received.

  • 2007 WRMC completed expansion of the 5th floor and emergency department
    • 5th Floor: The unique design of this 46,792 square foot space was the direct result of input and suggestions from employees and increased patient capacity by 30%.
    • Emergency Department: The addition of 20,000 square feet to existing emergency treatment area effectively transitioned the emergency department capable of providing care for as many as 70,000 patient visits annually.

New Senior Specialty Unit, formally known as ACE unit, opened on the new 5th floor.  WRMC was the first hospital in NWA to offer a specialized inpatient unit to care for aging population.

Washington Regional began construction of the Springdale Center for Health which will offer a women's clinic, outpatient imaging and lab services along with other medical specialties.

  • 2008 Pat Walker Center for Seniors opened with a community wide celebration honoring Ms. Pat Walker and the Walker Family. The 38,000 square foot Center houses the following services: Washington Regional Clinic for Senior Health; Washington Regional Memory Clinic, specializing in memory disorders; the Parkinson's disease Clinic, for patients with advanced Parkinson's or Huntington's disease; the newly relocated and expanded Center for Exercise, now fully accessible to individuals with handicaps.  Services include a warm-water swimming pool, heated therapy pool, and state-of-the art fitness and weight equipment; The Education Center which houses a health resource library and a large conference room designed to host community events for seniors; and the offices of Faith in Action, a volunteer-based, non-profit organization that provides non-medical services to homebound seniors.

Washington Regional completed the $64 million construction project.  (Expanded Emergency Department, new Center for Support Services, new fifth floor, new Pat Walker Center for Seniors, relocated and expanded pharmacy. and expanded and renovated kitchen.)

WRMC held a dedication ceremony for the Bodenhamer Chapel located on the new fifth floor. A stained glass mural inspired by the giant elm tree on the campus was presented.

WRMC installed a $1.6 million cardiac imaging system in the cardiac catheterization lab (cath lab) department located within the Walker Heart Institute

  • 2009 Springdale Center for Health opened providing the following services:
    • Imaging Digital Screening Mammography, Bone Density, Digital X-Ray, Ultrasound and EKG
    • HerHealth by Washington Regional Now at two locations.  Services include prenatal care, gynecology, infertility and urogynecology
    • Outpatient Laboratory

The Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation pledged to provide $2 million to Washington Regional Hospice to support the development of a new inpatient hospice facility.

Fayetteville City Hospital Auxiliary marked the 100th anniversary of its founding.

  • 2010 Washington Regional Hospice broke ground on a 12-bed inpatient facility at 325 E. Longview St. near Washington Regional Medical Center.

The Society of Chest Pain Centers granted Washington Regional full accreditation as a Chest Pain Center, after a meticulous evaluation of its ability to assess, diagnose and treat patients who may be experiencing a heart attack.

Washington Regional’s Walker Heart Institute introduced transradial catheterization, a less-invasive approach for both diagnostic and interventional heart catheterization procedures.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded a Silver Medal to Washington Regional for its success in increasing the number of organs available for lifesaving transplants. Washington Regional was the only area hospital to be recognized for achieving and sustaining national organ donation goals, including a donation rate of 75 percent or more of eligible donors.

  • 2011 Washington Regional opened its Total Joint Center, a comprehensive program that provides specialized education and a team of surgeons and staff focused exclusively on recovery and rehabilitation of joint replacement patients.

Washington Regional achieved Stage 6 on the global electronic medical record adoption model, one of just 214 hospitals out of 5,000 nationwide who had reached that stage by June 2011. Washington Regional was an early adopter of electronic medical record technology, having invested more than $25 million in its program since 2005.

U.S. News & World Report named Washington Regional one of the nation’s “118 Most Connected” hospitals and a leader in using electronic medical record technology and providing quality care.

Washington Regional became the only hospital in Arkansas approved by the Huntington Study Group Credential Committee to conduct clinical research on Huntington’s disease, an inherited, degenerative brain disorder. Dr. Alan Diamond, director of Washington Regional’s Movement Disorder Center, was selected to lead the research.

Washington Regional achieved designation as a NICHE hospital. NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) is the only national designation indicating a hospital’s commitment to elder care excellence.

The Willard Walker Hospice Home opened, greatly expanding the services of Washington Regional Hospice. In a tranquil, homelike setting with outdoor living areas and natural lighting, the 12 patient rooms in the 24,500-square-foot facility are designed as two-room family suites, each with access to a terrace or patio. Washington Regional Hospice provides an all-registered nurse staff at the Willard Walker Hospice Home, as well as a full-time board-certified hospice and palliative care physician.

Washington Regional was named one of the nation’s top performers on key quality measures by The Joint Commission, the leading accrediting agency of healthcare organizations in the U.S. Washington Regional was recognized by The Joint Commission based on data reported about evidence-based clinical processes that are shown to improve care for certain conditions, including heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care. Washington Regional was the only area hospital to earn this distinction.

  • 2012 Washington Regional Medical Center was named one of the nation’s Best Regional Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. Washington Regional was the only area hospital to be recognized by the publication.

Fayetteville City Hospital celebrated the 100th anniversary of its opening. 



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 Washington Regional
 3215 N. North Hills Blvd.
 Fayetteville, AR 72703
 (479) 463-1000

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Best Regional Hospitals U.S. News 2011-12
Top Performer Joint Commission 2013
Organ Donation Medal of Honor 2012
Best Hospital CitiScapes Magazine 2012
Celebrate Magazine Very Best 2012

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