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The Past

From its earliest home-grown roots in 1895 to the modern, high-tech world of today, Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System has provided more than a century of service to its community and the eight-county Lakeway Area.

Morristown’s first hospital, a three-story building just off North Cumberland Street, was equipped with eight beds and an operating room.  Hamblen Hospital was founded by Dr. D.E. Shields, Dr. P.L. Henderson, Dr. E.J. Bettis, and Dr. E.B. Hale in 1895.

Doctors continued the tradition of healthcare by building the 40-bed Morristown-Hamblen Hospital in 1918 at the corners of West Third North, West Fourth North and High Streets.

In 1955, the 46,096-square-foot Morristown-Hamblen Hospital building was constructed for $1 million amid the celebration of Morristown’s centennial. The new facility included 70 beds, four floors and 92 employees.  The doors of the facility opened August 18, 1955.  The hospital was fully accredited after its first full year of operation in its new facility, and it has maintained accreditation ever since.

The James E. Burke Wing, built in 1960, is named after Morristown-Hamblen Hospital benefactor James E. Burke of Burke and Hodges Lumber.  When the community outgrew the 70-bed facility, Burke gave $100,000 toward a $2 million, 50-bed expansion.  In 1975, there was added a $2.5 million, 50-bed north wing named for Hospital Founder and Former Mayor J.G. Wallace.

By the 30th Anniversary at the present location in 1985, the hospital offered 167 beds, 350 employees and such specialized services as computed tomography (CT) scanning and laser eye surgery.

The 1990s

In January 1995, Morristown-Hamblen Hospital expanded to include Morristown-Hamblen Home Care and Morristown-Hamblen Health Services.  An umbrella name, Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System, was developed in reference to all healthcare services and to reflect an emphasis on becoming an integrated healthcare delivery system for the region.

The hospital expanded the north parking lot, renovated the cafeteria and newborn babies were a little closer to their mothers as construction upgrades were completed in the Center for Women’s and Children’s Services.  The Center relocated the nursery so that it was adjacent to the Birthing Center.

Construction also was completed on the geropsychiatric unit.  Opening in July 1998, the Center for Behavioral Health provides inpatient psychiatric care for senior citizens in the community.  In addition to mental health services, the 12-bed facility also provides occupational therapy and recreation activities for patients in the unit.

The hospital purchased the Boulevard West Professional Complex and Diagnostic Center on West Morris Boulevard and renamed the facility the MHHS Health Complex.

21st Century

Fiscally responsible, mission-centered, patient-focused, customer-oriented services are important keys to the survival and future prosperity of MHHS.

Working toward these goals, MHHS expanded its Surgical Services Center in the Summer of 2000.  The 25,300-square-foot addition is constructed on top of Emergency & Critical Care Center, and the Advanced Technology & Imaging Center. The facility features an inpatient/outpatient center and seven operating suites with six currently open and one available for projected needs in the future.  The Center also includes a 19-bed prep and hold area, a cystoscopy room, a two-room endoscopy suite and a 12-bed recovery area.

In the Winter of 2001, MHHS expanded the Medical & Intensive Care Center.  The Critical Care Unit is housed in more than 8,500 square feet of renovated space on the third floor of the hospital.  Included in the Critical Care Unit are spacious rooms to accommodate 12 patients.  Combined with the eight beds in the Intensive Care Unit on the fourth floor of the hospital, there are a total of 20 beds dedicated to the care of critically ill and injured patients.  The new rooms feature a cardiac monitoring system that performs 12-lead electrocardiograms (EKGs), or heart tracings that measure heart function.

In January 2003, MHHS renovated the fourth floor of the James E. Burke Wing of the hospital.  Each bed of this renovated unit featured telemetry monitoring capability to track the vital signs of the patients, blood pressure and blood oxygenation, through radio-frequency technology.

In February 2003, through a cooperative effort between MHHS and the University of Tennessee Medical Center, aeromedical services now are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  MHHS maintains an approved helipad and makes available crew quarters for LIFESTAR staff on the main campus of the hospital near the Emergency & Critical Care Center.

In August 2003, MHHS expanded its Sleep Disorder Center, installing state-of-the-art diagnostic testing equipment and doubling the number of diagnostic testing room, featuring sleep monitoring equipment that checks the breathing, heart rhythm, oxygen saturation and brain wave activity of sleep patients.

In the fall of 2004, MHHS realized its vision and opened the Cancer Care & Treatment Center, on the first floor of the new Northeast Tower. Morristown Regional Cancer Center, created by a partnership between Baptist Regional Cancer Center and Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System, is housed in 5,400 square feet of the first floor of the Northeast Tower. As a result of this partnership, cancer patients receive radiation therapy with newly acquired, state-of-the-art equipment that allows physicians to focus the radiation directly on the tumor, producing results with fewer side effects. Included in the new Center is the Chemotherapy Center which provides greater availability of local medical oncology specialists.

In 2005, the Heart, Lung & Vascular Center began the consolidation process of all Cardiac, Vascular and Pulmonary services into the new, state-of-the-art Northeast Tower.  To create more efficient cardiovascular patient flow and increase patient comfort, the HL&V Center chose to consolidate all of services into one central location on the second floor, allowing for a more synergistic consolidation of state-of-the-art technology and staff.

Late 2005, Surgical breakthroughs at MHHS included the ReSTOR lenses, an improved design of a bifocal lens.  The Stryker Surgical System was added to our Surgical Services area and is used for performing total knee replacement surgery. It uses an infrared camera, along with wireless instruments, to monitor continually the position and alignment of the components during surgery, resulting in fewer postoperative complications.  Other specific new or improved services offered at MHHS include “Essure,” the ArthroCare ENT Coblator II Surgery System, the Stryker Surgical Navigation System, and the Bravo Esophageal Manometry and Esophageal pH System.

Also that year, a dedicated Women’s Center was created from the Women’s & Children’s Center.  It was renovated to offer additional comfort and convenience.  Features include a security entrance, private rooms and a quiet, comfortable environment in which to heal.  The Post-Partum/Gynecological Unit was also renovated and offers private rooms.  These rooms have two beds, one for the patient and one for their support person.  MHHS is the only Women’s Center in the area to offer this luxury. 

In 2006, the Morristown Regional Cancer Center added PET/CT Technology.  This is one of the most advanced scanners available to detect cancer in its earliest stages. This PET/CT scanner combines the latest PET and CT scanner technology to increase diagnostic confidence and improve patient management with faster scan times and higher-quality images.  PET/CT technology allows physicians to properly stage cancer, which is critical in the treatment process for improved cure rates.

In 2007, MHHS completed construction of the new Surgery-Endoscopy Center of Morristown, located directly adjacent to the front parking lot of the hospital facing Fourth North Street.  The new facility is a multi-specialty outpatient surgery center allowing patients and physicians easier access for outpatient procedures.  The new facility, approximately 12,000 square feet, is home to four dedicated operating suites. This freestanding facility allows patients direct access so they do not have to navigate through the hospital for outpatient procedures. 

The Women’s Center at MHHS added an advanced Perinatal Monitoring System in 2007.  This system allows physicians and nurses quicker access to vital information for mother and baby during childbirth.  Charting that was done by hand is now computerized and much quicker to record.

MHHS also began offering Spirit of Women in 2007.  Women who join become part of a support system for women of all ages: helping to nurture well-being and enrich lifestyles.

In February of 2007, MHHS implemented a Picture Archive and Communication System (PACS). Over a period of 10 months, MHHS completely rebuilt the imaging department, including purchasing new xray equipment, computers, and redesigned day-to-day operations.  After extensive staff training, the PACS system went live in December 2007, optimizing our radiology operations by going to a completely digital imaging environment.

In December of 2008, Prompt Family Care Sur (South) opened offering Hispanic families in our area a true alternative for family health care.  The clinic is staffed with Nurse Practitioner and full-time translator to ensure optimum care for Spanish speaking families.

In 2009 and 2010, MHHS opened Women’s Health Specialists with four hospital owned OB/GYN practices.  East Tennessee Women’s Health Specialists features Dr. Peter Clark and WHNP Pam Holt and Julianne Misenheimer,  Premier Women’s Health Specialists features Dr. Frank Ellis, Elite Women’s Health Specialist featuring Dr. Bill Black, and Advanced Women’s Health Specialists featuring Dr. Cole Anderson, Dr. Penny Knight and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Stacey Kesterson.

The Morristown Regional Diagnostic Center was so re-named in May, 2009.  At that time MHHS added Digital Mammography, an additional MRI with Breast MRI capabilities, and moved out-patient lab to the location directly across the street from the main campus.

In fall of 2009 MHHS added a Prompt Family Care non-emergent clinic in Jefferson City.

MHHS reached a true milestone in 2009, by being named the BEST Hospital for the 10th year in a row in the People’s Choice Award in The Citizen Tribune.  This is a true reflection of the community embracing MHHS and is an honor for the almost 1,000 associated who carry out our not-for-profit mission every day.

In 2010 MHHS was honored in Consumer Reports Magazine as being one of the top performing hospitals in the state of Tennessee for prevention of Central Line Infections.

In January of that year, MHHS also added a state-of-the-art 64 slice CT Scan (GE Lightspeed VCT XTe). The new CT Scan is the most advanced premium machine that enables a lower radiation dose (up to 40%) while maintaining high quality images throughout the body.

Today MHHS still is meeting the needs of its community.  The hospital is licensed for 167 beds.  The system also employees approximately 900 full and part-time associates.  There are multiple Centers of Excellence, including the Emergency & Critical Care Center, Heart, Lung & Vascular Center, Morristown Regional Cancer Center, Surgical Services Center, The Joint Center and the Women’s Center.

As part of MHHS’ dedication to quality patient care, needed healthcare services are continually being evaluated and added to help service the eastern Tennessee region.  With an increased medical staff (182 physicians including active, consulting and courtesy physicians), MHHS offers 34 specialty areas of medicine and the commitment and dedication of delivering local technology needed to meet the needs of the communities they serve.  MHHS is more than a hospital – it is truly a healthcare system.