Q: How big was Southeast Health when it started?
A: When the healthcare facility opened in September 1957 as a community hospital called Southeast Alabama General Hospital, it had 111 beds. It has since grown into a 420-bed regional referral center providing diagnostic, clinical, surgical and patient care services.
According to the book “Southeast Alabama Medical Center: Fifty Years of Healing” published in 2007 to mark the facility’s golden anniversary, a countywide referendum was held in July 1949 to authorize Houston County to levy and collect a tax not to exceed four mills to fund the new hospital. The referendum passed, with 1,838 voting in favor and 490 voting against.
Ground-breaking ceremonies were held on Oct. 23, 1955, at a 10-acre site on U.S. 84 East. Site preparation and construction took almost two years, and Southeast Alabama General Hospital was formally dedicated on Sept. 1, 1957.
The hospital opened the doors for its first official day of operation on Monday, Sept. 9, 1957. During the hospital’s first month, hospital staff admitted 114 patients. They paid $8 a day for multi-bed wards and $10-$14 for a private room.
The first major addition, a 40-bed nursing home, opened in 1961. Seven years later, it was converted to an extended care facility. The decade also saw the addition of 70 beds and the development of new programs and ancillary services.