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What Is the Lawrence Memorial Hospital?

By Britt Archer
Updated May 17, 2024
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The Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Lawrence, Kansas, also known as LMH, was ranked as one of the best hospitals in the United States by U.S. News and World Report in 2011. The first incarnation of Lawrence Memorial Hospital was as a small municipal hospital in 1921. The hospital underwent improvements and in 1929 had 50 beds, with the number increasing to 75 in 1937 with a new addition. By 1956 the beds increased to 146, and by 1969 the hospital’s growth and renovations added even more beds, for a total of 165.

The hospital’s early years began with donations from a local benefactor, Elizabeth Miller Watkins, who was born in 1861 and died in 1939. The hospital remembered her on the 150th anniversary of her birth in 2011 with a birthday cake. Others who benefited from her philanthropy also celebrated her birthday, including the University of Kansas. The university presented an original play about her life, among other events to honor her memory.

Less than a decade after the 1969 renovations at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, the original structure that was funded by Elizabeth Watkins to house the hospital was replaced by a new structure, with beds for 200 patients. The original building that had served as the community’s hospital for decades was razed in 1999. Over the years, Lawrence Memorial Hospital underwent numerous changes, including the addition of an auditorium in 1986 and a medical office building in 1994. In 1997 the hospital again expanded with a larger unit for radiology, an updated maternity center and expanded emergency room. Expansions and renovations continued over the intervening years, including the additions of a heart center and a cardiac evaluation program.

As of 2011, the hospital had a staff of two dozen full-time doctors and six part-time doctors. The faicility also has a staff of 214 full-time registered nurses and another 121 who work part-time. Fifteen full-time licensed practical nurses also are on staff, plus another ten part-time practical nurses. The hospital’s annual admissions are about 6,680, with more than 1,400 inpatient surgeries. Annual outpatient vists total nearly 225,000. More than 36,200 patients visit the hospital’s emergency room in a year, and the hospital delivers about 1,150 babies a year.

The hospital’s community outreach programs include Meals on Wheels, which delivers meals to shut-ins, health screenings, and health fairs. The facility also offers a smoking-cessation program, translation services for patients, wound management, a sleep center and a women’s health center. Outpatient services include chemotherapy, alternative and complementary medicine, lithotripsy and heart catheterization. Inpatient services include skilled care for the disabled and the elderly, palliative care, cancer treatment and emergency care for psychiatric patients.

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