Fitzsimons Army Medical Center

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Fitzsimons Army Medical Center
Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in 1989.JPEG
Exterior view of the front of Fitzsimons Army Medical Center Hospital
Active 1918 - 1999
Country United States
Allegiance United States of America
Branch United States Army
Type Hospital
Motto "Comfort Heal Relieve"

The Fitzsimons Army Medical Center (formerly the Fitzsimons Army Hospital) was a medical facility of the United States military during the 20th century located on 577 acres (234 ha) in Aurora, Colorado. The facility closed in 1999 and the grounds are currently being redeveloped for civilian use as the Anschutz Medical Campus and the Fitzsimons Life Science District.

The facility was founded by the United States Army during World War I arising from the need to treat the large number of casualties from chemical weapons in Europe. Denver's reputation as a prime location for the treatment of tuberculosis led local citizens to lobby the Army on behalf of Denver as the site for the new hospital. Army Hospital 21, as it was first called, was formally dedicated in the autumn of 1918 in Aurora, which at the time had a population of less than 1,000. In July 1920, the facility was formally renamed the Fitzsimons Army Hospital after Lt. William T. Fitzsimons, the first American medical officer killed in World War I.[1] A new main building, known as Building 500, was built in 1941. At the time, it was the largest structure in Colorado.[1]

Professional football player Wendell Hayes visits patients during the Vietnam War.

The facility was used heavily during World War II to treat returning casualties and became one of the Army's premier medical training centers. In the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower received treatment at the facility three separate times for his heart condition while he was president. In September 1955, while on vacation at his in-laws' house in Denver, he suffered a myocardial infarction and was placed in an oxygen tent at the facility. In 2000, a suite of rooms on the hospital's eighth floor was restored to appear as it did when Eisenhower was recovering there.

Secretary of State, former United States Senator, and 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry was born at the facility on December 11, 1943, while his father was receiving treatment for tuberculosis.

Closure and transfer of facilities[edit]

Fitzsimons aerial view, circa 1973. Building 500 is at the center of the photo.

In July 1995, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended the closure of the facility, with the exception of the Edgar J. McWhethy Army Reserve Center, located at the southeast corner of the installation. The closure was completed in 1999 and the reserve center was relocated to the northeast portion of the site. The projected $5 billion (Economic Contributions of Activities at Fitzsimons Life Science District and the UC Denver Anschutz Medical Campus - Sammons/Dutton LLC, 2008) redevelopment of the facility into civilian use currently includes the construction of the University of Colorado Hospital's $147 million Anschutz Inpatient Pavilion, and the $509-million Children's Hospital. The medical campus also includes University of Colorado Denver medical education and research facilities, including the Ben Nighthorse Campbell Center for Native American Research, named in honor of the U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado.

Additional facilities currently built at the former base include the Bioscience Park Center and Bioscience East (multi-tenant commercial lab buildings in the planned 6,100,000-square-foot (570,000 m2) Colorado Science+Technology Park at Fitzsimons) and 21 Fitzsimons(a residential/retail town center). The future Veterans Affairs Medical Center is currently building.

United States Army Medical Equipment and Optical School (USAMEOS)[edit]

FAMC was the location of the United States Army Medical Equipment and Optical School (USAMEOS). USAMEOS provided technicians trained in Biomedical Equipment Repair or Optical Laboratory Operations. Biomedical equipment repair personnel (referred to as BMETs—pronounced 'bee/mets') were assigned to military medical units to install, maintain, repair, and calibrate sophisticated life support, diagnostic, imaging, and general medical equipment. Military Occupation Specialties (MOS) graduating from USAMEOS included: 35G, 35S, 35T, and 35U. Optical laboratory technicians were designated as 42E upon graduation of the 21 week optical training course. In the hallways of the USAMEOS training facility hung the pictures of graduating BMET classes over decades of operation.

When the USAMEOS program was first developed, the training program was divided into Basic and Advanced Courses. The basic course work was 20 weeks long. The advanced course work was 32 weeks long. The courses were later changed to a 40 week basic class (35G) and 32 week advanced course (35U). The graduates of the basic course were known as "Super G's" referring to the MOS of 35G. With a small amount of additional course work, USAMEOS graduates could earn an AAS in Biomedical Equipment Maintenance from Regis University in Denver. During the 1990s, the MOS designation was changed to 91A for Biomedical Equipment Repair Technician, and the Basic Course consisted of a 38-week course broken up into twelve modules. Modules included Anatomy and Physiology, Basic Soldering, AC/DC theory and Ohm's Law, Transistor Theory, Digital Circuits, Basic Troubleshooting, Dental and Pneumatic Devices, Sterilizers and Ultrasonic Cleaners, Linear Circuits, Spectrophotometers and Solid State Relays, and two modules of X-ray. The school culminated in a field problem where students lived in ISOs and temper tents while filling out paperwork in the field environment to include pulling guard duty. After graduation from the basic course, students would typically be assigned to an operational unit for practical work between the Basic and Advanced Courses. Technical training at USAMEOS was intensive and provided both engineering theory and hands on learning opportunities in an extensive set of labs.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Colfax: Main Street Colorado. 2007. Havey Productions.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°44′43″N 104°50′14″W / 39.74528°N 104.83722°W / 39.74528; -104.83722