The 1930s marked Borgess' foray into health care advances that would better life for residents in Kalamazoo and across the nation.
A small basement room in the hospital proved to be a thriving laboratory for Dr. Homer Stryker, as he invented the Circ-O-Lectric Bed, a practical rubber heel for walking casts, an oscillating saw to remove casts and many other inventions. Later, many wounded World War II veterans would reap the benefits from Stryker's experiments.
In other areas, Dr. Roscoe Hildreth began providing radium and radon therapy, and Dr. Richard Upjohn Light launched neurological outpatient services at the hospital.
As World War II raged on overseas, Borgess faithfully delivered medical care to those in need. Supplies were tight at times and volunteers worked tirelessly preparing surgical dressings and sewing sheets — all while bringing comfort and compassion to Borgess patients and staff.
While Americans rocked around the clock, Borgess Hospital embarked on a series of timely building projects that boosted capacity to 333 beds and increased admissions to 10,400 per year. Expansion included the hospital's emergency, laboratory, radiology, food services and administrative office spaces.
The sixties began a decade of widespread change — both sweeping the country and Borgess Hospital. During this time, the hospital's scope of care grew rapidly. The emphasis on specialized medicine, such as neurology, cardiology, critical care services and cancer care, can still be seen at Borgess today.
Technology and specialized medicine were the Borgess buzzwords throughout the 1970s.
The hospital's reputation as a leader in health care innovation grew with the region's first open heart surgery and the establishment of a kidney transplantation program. At this time, mental health, nephrology, oncology, neurology and cardiology services also expanded, resulting in construction that brought the bed count to 454.
In 1979, Borgess Hospital's role as a tertiary care institution was recognized as its name changed to Borgess Medical Center.
Throughout the eighties, Borgess' emphasis on health promotion was extended beyond the hospital's doors into the community.
Programs including child car seat safety, poison control, the Borgess Run for the Health Of It and assistance in developing the County's EMS system were initiated and proved vital to the health of area residents.
Borgess commemorated 100 years of care after undergoing a $43 million Medical Center expansion and establishing Borgess Inflight Medical Service air ambulance.
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