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Modern Medicine, 1945-now
Modern Medicine, 1945-now

St. Joseph Medical Center
In 1954 the Sisters of Charity closed St. Joseph Sanatorium, and it became a convent. By the 1960s Albuquerque’s population had reached 35,000, and the Sisters decided it was time for a new hospital. They broke ground in 1966 for St. Joseph Medical Center and demolished the former sanitorium to make room. The new, 12-story, $10.8 million facility opened in 1968, with 349 beds, a neurology department, rehabilitation department, pediatrics department and youth care center. Upper floors were completed in 1971 and had a neurology, rehabilitation and pediatrics department and youth-care center.

In 1984 the system added St. Joseph West Mesa Hospital and, a year later, the St. Joseph Northeast Heights Medical Center and West Mesa Medical Center. In 1988 the St. Joseph Rehabilitation Hospital and Outpatient Center (now the Rehabilitation Hospital of New Mexico) were added.

In 2002 Ardent Health Services acquired St. Joseph Healthcare System, which that year celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Lovelace Clinic and Lovelace Foundation
In 1946 William Lovelace’s nephew Randy Lovelace, a former Air Force pilot and expert in aviation medicine, joined his uncle. They organized the nonprofit Lovelace Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

By 1949, Lovelace Clinic needed to expand and construction began on a pueblo-style building, designed by John Gaw Meem, near the Veterans Hospital. On an adjacent site, the charismatic Randy Lovelace persuaded the Methodist Church to build Bataan Memorial Methodist Hospital in 1952.

In 1959 Lovelace Foundation, Lovelace Clinic and NASA developed a rigorous series of fitness tests for astronauts, and the clinic effectively became the space program’s medical department, testing 33 pilots. Seven of them became the first Americans in space, the Mercury astronauts. Lovelace also gained research contracts from the National Institutes of Health and the Atomic Energy Commission. In those Cold War days, the government was interested in blast injuries. Lovelace designed protective devices, buildings and bomb shelters.

Meanwhile the group practice continued to attract specialists. One of the practice’s early supporters was oilman Robert O. Anderson, who was chairman of the board in the 1960s. Anderson and Randy Lovelace were both involved with the Aspen Institute. It was on his way back from one of those meetings in December 1965 that Randy, his wife and their pilot died in a plane crash. All seven original astronauts returned for the funeral.

Under CEO Don Kilgore, the organization looked into the concept of managed care. The result that year was the Lovelace Health Plan, with 2,200 members. In 1975 the clinic and hospital merged with Lovelace Medical Foundation.

By the 1980s Lovelace needed a new hospital. In 1987 the old John Gaw Meem building was razed and the new Lovelace Hospital and Medical Center took its place. In 1991 the medical center and health plan were sold to a private health-care provider, and the foundation spun off as The Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute.

In 2003 Ardent Health Services acquired Lovelace Health Systems and joined it with St. Joseph Healthcare System, which it acquired the year before, to become Lovelace Sandia Health System.

Presbyterian Healthcare Services
By the early 1950s, with TB on the wane, Southwestern Presbyterian Sanatorium’s days appeared to be numbered. The board decided to hire a new administrator, change the focus and the name. It became Presbyterian Hospital Center.

In 1960 Presbyterian Hospital expanded, and the early complex was largely demolished. Through the 1970s the hospital continued to grow, adding Kaseman Hospital in the Northeast Heights. Presbyterian also organized its own HMO health plan and expanded statewide.

Today Presbyterian Healthcare Services continues to be a not-for-profit corporation with seven acute-care hospitals, a long-term care facility, multiple rural clinics and community based family healthcare centers, home health services, and an affiliated managed care health plan. Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque is a 453-bed hospital.

University of New Mexico
In 1945 UNM established its College of Pharmacy, followed 10 years later by the College of Nursing. UNM’s School of Medicine began in 1964 as a two-year school and became a four-year program in 1966. In 1969 the Mental Health Center admitted its first patients. The Cancer Research and Treatment Center opened in 1975.

The Bernalillo County Indian Hospital, which opened in 1954, became the Bernalillo County Medical Center in 1968. In 1979 it came under the university’s umbrella as University Hospital, and in 1983 was designated as the state’s only Level I Trauma Center.

Carrie Tingley Hospital, which opened in 1937 in Hot Springs (Truth or Consequences) to treat crippled children, moved to Albuquerque in 1981. Four years later it moved to its current location on University Blvd., the former location of the Osteopathic Hospital Association. Carrie Tingley Hospital is now part of the UNM system.

Other Hospitals
The Albuquerque Veterans Affairs Medical Center today is a Level 1 tertiary referral center with 246 beds. This includes a 26-bed spinal-cord injury center and a 36-bed geriatrics and extended care unit.

Memorial Hospital, the former railroaders’ hospital built in 1926, closed in 1982. After a variety of tenants and missions, it was purchased in 2002 by Youth and Family Centered Services of Austin. The 70-bed facility provides acute psychiatric services to adolescents and children and also serves as a residential treatment center for children.

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