When the Texas & Pacific Railroad came through the state lines of Texas and Arkansas in 1873, the birth of a boomtown called Texarkana became a reality on December 8, 1873.
By the turn of the century, the timber and railroad business brought people and prosperity to Texarkana. The population had grown from a few thousand to almost 20,000, and the citizens of Texarkana voiced the need for a city hospital.
To meet this need, in 1900, Drs. S.A. Collom, George C. Abell, Thomas F. Kittrell and R.H.T. Mann opened Texarkana’s first hospital, Pine Street Sanitarium, forerunner of Wadley Regional Medical Center. They were called "visionaries." Yet how could they envision the impact their 15-bed hospital, started in a residential home, would have on the City of Texarkana and the Four-States area for the next 100 years?
In 1905, the hospital incorporated and was renamed the Texarkana Sanitarium and Training School for Nurses. The Texarkana Hospital grew during its first 18 years to a position of recognized eminence, being one of the finest institutions of its kind in the South. It grew and prospered as more physicians were added to the staff, and by 1920, the hospital had grown to 50 beds with 50 physicians, admitting 3,000 patients annually, and was officially called the Texarkana Hospital.
With the beginning of a new era of technology and a population explosion in Texarkana, in 1952 the Board of Trustees of the Texarkana Hospital met to discuss building a new 100-bed hospital. The new medical facility would enter a modern day era of providing the best health care possible, by combining cutting edge technology with excellence in personal care. Visionaries, much like those who built the original city hospital in 1900, were once again looking far into the future to provide medical care that would surpass anything any of them could dare to dream.
J. K. Wadley, whose generous contributions to the building of the new hospital would result in its being named for him, made a far-reaching observation about the hospital: "The Lord favored us in these determinations … this hospital was built for the community … by the community … and should be community operated."
On January 10, 1959, the doors of the beautiful Wadley Hospital opened, representing a tremendous step forward for Texarkana. Instead of a 100-bed hospital, as originally planned, the new Wadley Hospital opened with a 200-bed capacity, with plans to expand to 350 in the near future. It was built for the utmost care of the patient just as its benefactors envisioned.
Serving the patient, by providing only the best in skills, care and technology has been the trademark of Wadley Hospital throughout its 100-year history.
A chronology of medical advancements
- In 1967 the pacemaker, one of the first life-saving innovations in Cardiology, was introduced at Wadley Hospital.
- June 10, 1967, Wadley opened the first Intensive Care Unit in Texarkana.
- In 1969 Wadley introduced the first Nuclear Medicine Department.
With the completion of the hospital’s first expansion in 1971, Wadley Hospital would maintain its position as "a high-tech hospital with a family spirit." In the 1970’s the hospital faced many new challenges, from an explosion of technological advancements to a nursing strike that would attract national attention.
- In October 1972, the first patient was admitted to the new 9-bed Surgical Intensive Care Unit.
- July 1972, the Physical Therapy Department was established.
- By the end of the decade, the hospital had opened the first Heart Cath Lab in the area.
One person who shared J.K. Wadley’s love of Wadley Hospital and the community was his best friend, Josh Morriss, Sr. It was under his leadership as president of the Board of Directors that the hospital began to take its place as the recognized leader in technology, medical expertise, and patient care. Visionaries like Josh Morris, Sr. set the pace for Wadley Hospital to reach even greater heights in the 1980’s.
In the 1970’s and 80’s, Wadley Regional Medical Center was the only medical facility in the area to provide obstetrical care. With the area’s most experienced maternal child staff, Wadley set an early precedent for childbirth in the Ark-La-Tex and in 1989 earned the title, "The Birth Place of Texarkana." As in all other areas of the medical center, Wadley’s Nursery, which includes a Level-II neonatal intensive care unit, has remained on the cutting edge of innovations for excellence in newborn care.
The 1980’s brought unprecedented growth, and in May 1982, the Board of Directors made the decision to change the name of the hospital to "Wadley Regional Medical Center" to better describe the increasing range of services it provided. As the hospital embraced the new age of technology, it emerged as the largest and most comprehensive medical center in the Four-States area.
- With the coming of the Computer Age, the hospital purchased a CT scanner that would X-Ray the head and entire body in a matter of seconds.
- In 1984 a $45 million expansion was completed which made the hospital "the largest and most comprehensive facility in the area.
- In 1983, one of the landmark achievements for Wadley Regional was performing the area’s first open-heart surgery.
- In February 1989, a Pastoral Care Team was established to minister to patients, families and employees of the medical center.
- In 1989 the hospital broke ground for the new Child Care and Development Center, a first in Texarkana.
- In September 1989 the hospital opened Wadley LifeSource, a community education center providing free health education and wellness to the public.
- By the end of the 80’s Wadley introduced one-day surgery in a new Ambulatory Day Surgery Center, open a Skilled Nursing Facility and a new, state-of-the-art Cancer Treatment and Diagnostic Imaging Center.
For twenty years Wadley Regional Medical Center experienced growth and stability under the leadership of Arthur L. McElmurry, Administrator, who retired in 1985.
The hospital of the 1990s would be very different from that even of the 80’s. Although technology had revolutionized health care, hospitals of the 90’s would face new challenges. The focus for the future of Wadley Regional Medical Center would be on how to offer the best service with the latest technology, at an affordable cost for the patient. Always and foremost, the patient would come first.
The emphasis for the 1990’s would be wellness and prevention of disease as the hospital reached out to the community.
- In March 24, 1991 Wadley’s new 23-bed Day Surgery Center opened and in two short years had admitted over 27,000 patients.
- In December 1992 a new Gastrointestinal Lab opened, performing over 350 procedures monthly.
- In 1993 CareSource Home Health was opened to help patients achieve better health in the home setting.
- In 1995 Wadley CareSource Hospice was established to help relieve pain, ease symptoms and assist the terminally ill in daily living.
- In August 1995 the Stereotactic Needle Biopsy System, the first of its kind in Texarkana and the Four States area, was purchased to diagnose breast cancer.
- In April 1996, Wadley broke ground for the 4700 square foot expansion to the Cancer Treatment Center and a Clinac 2300CD Linear Accelerator was added to treat cancer.
- April 1998, Wadley added a second MRI to its arsenal of diagnostic weapons, an open magnet design.
- A designated Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center opened in 1998 on Wadley’s fourth floor.
- Fall 1998, Wadley SportsCare brought comprehensive healthcare services to athletes of all ages.
- October 1998, Wadley introduced the X-knife or stereotactic radiosurgery, a procedure used exclusively at Wadley Regional to irradiate inoperable brain tumors.
- 1998, Wadley Regional’s Cancer Treatment Center was the first to offer Brachytherapy Remote Afterloader– a treatment using high-dose radioactive implants to dissolve tumors from the inside – out.
- 1999 also brought the introduction of Rotational Atherectomy to remove heavy plaque build-up in the arteries, another first for Wadley and Texarkana.
- February 1999, Wadley opened a 20-bed Respiratory Care unit designed and equipped specifically to care for the seriously ill respiratory patient.
- June 1999, Wadley’s brightly colored, mobile medical unit (WOW) rolled out, providing access to quality health care services to the entire community.
- Wadley Regional opened a separate, six-room neurological surgical intensive care unit to treat the critically ill or injured patient in July 1999.
- July 1999, Wadley Regional babies went "on-line" with WebNursery. With mom’s permission, a digital photo of every newborn is posted on the "web" so distant relatives and friends can also celebrate each birthing experience.
On Sunday, September 24th, 2000, Wadley Regional Medical Center celebrated its 100th birthday with a Centennial Celebration.