On March 1, 1943, Prescott Community Hospital – now Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) – opened its doors to care for patients. By 9:00 p.m. on that date, Florence Yount, MD, had delivered the first baby born at the new hospital.
“This marked the official launch of a 75-year relationship between YRMC and the community,” said John Amos, President and CEO of YRMC. “From the beginning, the people of this community understood the importance of creating a healthcare delivery system to meet their unique needs. They believed firmly that lots of good would result from neighbors caring for neighbors.”
A History of Community Support
That belief was clear as many community members pitched in to ensure Prescott Community Hospital – converted from Jefferson Elementary School on Marina Street – was equipped and ready to care for patients.
Longtime Prescott resident and community leader Elisabeth Ruffner was involved in efforts to establish the hospital as a nonprofit provider, available to all people in the community.
Ruffner recalls that Jefferson Elementary School was purchased for $1,000. A group of community members, including Ruffner, wrote the cornerstone document – Prescott Community Hospital Association Inc., a Non-Profit Corporation in the State of Arizona – that designated the hospital as a community-based, not-for-profit provider.
These same people and many others in the community were involved in ensuring the hospital was equipped and ready to provide care.
“We furnished the school cafeteria as an operating room,” Ruffner said. “Dr. Yount traveled the region looking for beds, stoves, tables – any kind of hospital equipment she could buy. Physicians’ wives went door-to-door for donations. All of the businesses stepped up so we could open a hospital in that abandoned school building.”
A Milestone Vote
Fast forward several decades and the community was again at a crossroads that concerned healthcare. In 1960, the community voted to establish the Central Yavapai Hospital District. This was followed in 1962 by a vote to build a new hospital that would replace Prescott Community Hospital.
Ruffner recalls the excitement surrounding the vote and the community conversations about it.
“I believe it was the first time, at least in Arizona, of a non-profit local association taking over a government hospital,” said Ruffner. “We provided a clinic for the county and then with a Hill-Burton Grant from the federal government, we built the wing to the south, which is now Yavapai Regional Medical Center.”
An article in the Prescott Evening Courier characterized the vote as part of a larger effort that would allow the community to “…attract new industry and other economic assets, including a college and tourists, so that local residents will benefit from more job opportunities and a higher standard of living …”
In 1964, the hospital relocated to its current location on Willow Creek Road and changed its name to Yavapai Community Hospital. The hospital underwent another name change in 1984, becoming Yavapai Regional Medical Center. This change reflected the scope of its advanced medical services and growing service area.
YRMC Heads East to Prescott Valley
The rapid growth of Prescott Valley helped spur another important milestone for the community: the opening of YRMC East in 2006.
“People were waiting for YRMC to open. They wanted it here. They needed the medical services,” said Prescott Valley Mayor Harvey Skoog, who had long advocated for the hospital. “We had the opening of the hospital and here I thought it would just be a hospital, but we have all these other services, like the BreastCare Center and Imaging Services. Today we have 45,000 people and this is just a phenomenal part of our growth.”
YRMC’s Journey: Moving Forward, Maintaining Original Values
For Robbie Nicol, MBA, CFRE, Executive Director of Community Outreach and Philanthropy at YRMC, the organization’s journey illustrates the community’s commitment to locally operated healthcare as well as its support for advanced facilities and services.
“This is part of the DNA of our community,” she said. “I think about how the community coalesced to equip the cafeteria turned operating room at the first hospital on Marina Street. Then I think about the support YRMC received for its hybrid surgical suite at YRMC West. Both were possible because the people we serve believe in community-based healthcare and support state-of-the-art services.”
In 2018, YRMC accomplishes this through a vast network of healthcare services throughout the community. In addition to YRMC West and YRMC East, the community has access to excellent healthcare through a total of 24 primary and specialty YRMC PhysicianCare Clinics in Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley and Bagdad.
Help Tell the Story of Healthcare in Our Community
YRMC’s 75th anniversary celebration theme “Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow” highlights the meaning of community-based, not-for-profit healthcare. YRMC is giving people the opportunity to join this conversation by sharing anecdotes from their lives that involve the hospital.
Video interviews, stories and images are being gathered for the YRMC Memory Catcher project. Visit YRMC HealthConnect to explore YRMC’s history as told by the community. The Memory Catcher project features familiar people, including for example:
- Jean Phillips, Community Leader
- Elisabeth Ruffner, Community Leader
- The Olsen and Sischka Family, Business and Community Leaders
- Harvey Skoog, Mayor of Prescott Valley
- JC Trujillo, General Manager of Prescott Frontier Days and Bareback World Championship Rider
“Memory Catcher visitors also will meet folks who have grown up in the community or are new to the area. They have wonderful, interesting and amusing stories to share,” said Ken Boush, Director of Marketing and Communications at YRMC.
“All of these anecdotes create a tapestry that tell the story of YRMC and its 75-year relationship with the community. We’re encouraging people throughout our community to share their stories.”