VETERANS AFFAIRS MEDICAL CENTER, AMARILLO
VETERANS AFFAIRS MEDICAL CENTER, AMARILLO. The Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Amarillo was technically the first facility to occupy land that later became part of the Harrington Regional Medical Center. The hospital, originally called the Veterans Administration Hospital at Amarillo, was built as a result of a vigorous campaign spearheaded by George Broome, who helped form the Panhandle-Plains Association of the American Legion soon after World War I. Congressman John Marvin Jones became the project's biggest booster and introduced an amendment to the bill providing medical care for wounded servicemen, that called for locating a veterans' sanatorium in Potter or Randall County. Although this first attempt died in the Senate, Jones finally accomplished his goal after the Veterans Administration was established in the 1930s. A six-story hospital with 156 beds was completed in 1939 at a cost of $1 million. At its formal opening on May 12, 1940, the facility was heralded as one of the most modern in the nation. The Gray Lady Corps of the Red Cross supplied the hospital's first volunteer work force in October 1940. After the United States entered World War II the number of beds was increased to 187; recreation and physical therapy facilities were added in 1946. After the Korean War ended in 1953, the hospital was among those considered for closing due to budget cuts, a move recommended in 1955 by the Hoover Commission. However, the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce, backed by the American Legion and other veterans' groups, fought successfully to keep it open. Over the next twenty years several expansion and renovation projects served to modernize the facility, which provides general medical and surgical treatment and alcohol rehabilitation and vocational rehabilitation services for veterans. In 1987 a new $17 million clinical addition opened, and the original facility was later remodeled. In 1989 the hospital's name changed to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Capacity for the hospital in 1993 was 141 beds with an additional 120 beds provided in a nursing home care unit opened in 1990. Clinics in Amarillo and Lubbock saw 107,000 outpatients in 1992. A staff of 660 provided services to an area comprising forty counties in the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, Kansas, and New Mexico.
Amarillo Globe-Times, June 26, 1987. Amarillo Sunday News-Globe, January 18, 1976.