Texas County Memorial Hospital Holds Ceremony to Dedicate and Open 59,000 Square Feet of New Patient Care Areas

More than 500 area residents took part in grand opening ceremonies for the new expansion at Texas County Memorial Hospital on Thursday. The festivities began in the morning with a Masonic cornerstone ceremony, followed by a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting in the afternoon and tours of the new construction that lasted until the early evening.

John Broyles, deputy grand master of the Missouri Free Masons, presided over the Masonic cornerstone ceremony.  The stone, on the far left, is located on the Northeast side of the new construction.

John Broyles, deputy grand master of the Missouri Free Masons, presided over the Masonic cornerstone ceremony. The stone, on the far left, is located on the Northeast side of the new construction.


“I am amazed that this day has finally arrived,” Wes Murray, chief executive officer at TCMH, said.

Two years earlier, TCMH hosted a public groundbreaking on the same area with plans of building 59,000 square feet of new patient care areas including a new emergency department, radiology department, registration department and medical surgical floor.

Murray thanked those present including dignitaries from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, the Texas County Commissioners, the TCMH board of trustees, medical staff and employees for working together to bring improved healthcare facilities to Texas County.

A large crowd gathered under and around a tent for the afternoon dedication ceremony.

A large crowd gathered under and around a tent for the afternoon dedication ceremony.

Omanez Fockler, chairperson of the TCMH Board of Trustees, reminded those present that the land where the hospital stood was once a field on the edge of Houston—purchased by Texas County from the Parmenter family—where the first county healthcare facilities were built and dedicated in 1958.

“I stand here today with a grateful heart at the many milestones of this hospital,” Fockler said.

Omanez Fockler, chairperson of the TCMH Board of Trustees

Omanez Fockler, chairperson of the TCMH Board of Trustees

Fockler, a board member at TCMH for over 10 years and a former nurse that spent her career working at TCMH, reminded those present that she and the other TCMH board members have “deep roots in the county”.

“We take very seriously the job you’ve entrusted us with to provide oversight for the healthcare of the citizens of Texas County,” Fockler said, explaining that with the expansion project the hospital board “took advantage of a window of opportunity to move our county healthcare facility into the 21st century.”

“It’s with great excitement that we move into this wonderful facility, an asset for everyone in our community,” Fockler said.

Janie Dunning, director of USDA Rural Development for the state of Missouri, was also present for the groundbreaking ceremony two years earlier.

Janie Dunning, director of USDA Rural Development for the state of Missouri

Janie Dunning, director of USDA Rural Development for the state of Missouri

“Rural Development made its first investment in this county hospital in 1979,” Dunning said. “We take great pride in being able to help provide for the health and well being of our rural communities.”

Dunning explained that USDA Rural Development can provide the funding, and the hospital administration can provide the building, but “this is really all about the healthcare providers taking care of the patients,” Dunning said.

During the groundbreaking ceremony two years ago, Dunning met former TCMH employee and volunteer, Bonnie Burch. Dunning explained that she and Burch developed a friendship, and Burch expressed to Dunning her concern that she would not see the new construction built.

Burch passed away prior to the completion of the construction, but Dunning honored her memory, “Miss Bonnie, this is your dream came true.”

Schaun Flaim, DO, chief of the TCMH medical staff and internal medicine physician at the TCMH Medical Complex in Houston, spoke on behalf of the medical staff.

Dr. Schaun Flaim, chief of the TCMH Medical Staff

Dr. Schaun Flaim, chief of the TCMH Medical Staff

“I do not have roots in this county, but I did grow up in small town,” Flaim said. “I know how important a facility like this is to the members of the community.”

Flaim commended everyone for “pulling together to make this happen”.

“I look forward to being able to say that I’ve been here for 50 years,” Flaim said. “And we all look forward to providing healthcare in this new facility.”

Jeffrey Kerr, DO, emergency department medical director, reflected on the growth he’s seen in his 20 plus years of work in the TCMH ER. He recalled working many years ago in an ER with four beds and doorbell for patients to ring after midnight.

Dr. Jeff Kerr, TCMH emergency department medical director

Dr. Jeff Kerr, TCMH emergency department medical director

“Our new department has doubled in size from seven rooms to 15 rooms, and we anticipate rapid growth in the future of the ER,” Kerr said.

Kerr explained that the TCMH ER is currently working toward special trauma and stroke designations, and the department plans to offer an urgent care during peak times in the new facility.

Kerr noted that the new department has improved safety features, more patient privacy, and improved and integrated technology.

“Our service area has also grown to a 60 mile radius from Houston,” Kerr said, adding, “Our service does not take a holiday.”

“The teamwork here makes TCMH a special place,” Kerr said. “Our staff is excited about giving of themselves to make us one of the best rural hospitals in the nation.”

Following the speakers’ remarks, Murray invited everyone present to gather between the two canopies in front of the new construction for a ribbon cutting. Members of the TCMH board of trustees shared the honors of cutting the red ribbon.

Several hundred people gathered to cut the ceremonial ribbon for the new construction.  Members of the TCMH Board of Trustee cut the ceremonial ribbon.

Several hundred people gathered to cut the ceremonial ribbon for the new construction. Members of the TCMH Board of Trustee cut the ceremonial ribbon.

Reverend Beth Duckworth, member of the TCMH Volunteer Chaplain’s Association, provided a blessing for the new front entrance before anyone entered the new construction.

Revered Beth Duckworth, member of the TCMH Volunteer Chaplain’s Association, provided a blessing and placed a small cross on the doorway of the new front entrance.

Revered Beth Duckworth, member of the TCMH Volunteer Chaplain’s Association, provided a blessing and placed a small cross on the doorway of the new front entrance.

Tours of the new construction were given until early evening, drawing residents from all over the county, young and old.

Rachel Phillips, director of the TCMH registration department shows a visitor the new waiting area for registration and for the outpatient physician’s clinic.

Rachel Phillips, director of the TCMH registration department shows a visitor the new waiting area for registration and for the outpatient physician’s clinic.

The second floor of the new construction—the medical surgical department—is not complete, but is expected to be complete in mid-June.

Renovation in the old portion of the hospital will begin this month as departments vacate their current locations and move into the new construction.

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