The oldest civilian hospital in Lawton, Southwestern Medical Center began as Turner and Lewis Private Hospital and Training School for Nurses on October 17, 1907. Drs. Turner and Lewis saw the need for a modern hospital in the frontier city of Lawton, Oklahoma and were determined to bring the best healthcare possible to their adopted hometown. They built a brick institution at the corner of 4th Street and South Boundary (now 402 Lee Boulevard) with 12 beds in two three-bed wards (one for men and the other for women) and six private rooms. There was also a dining room, operating room and a doctors’ dressing room which also served as the laboratory as well as nursing quarters. By 1909, Drs. Turner and Lewis were providing ambulance service within Lawton and certain parts of Comanche County.
Starting in 1911, Dr. Lewis renamed the institution Southwestern Hospital, and ran it on his own. In the later part of that decade, a consortium of local physicians, “Comanche County Hospital, Inc.”, leased Southwestern Hospital from Dr. Lewis. After the First World War, Dr. Lewis sold the Hospital to a talented pair of physicians from the consortium: Dr. George S. Barber and Dr. Ernest B. Dunlap. These doctors continued the Hospital’s tradition of providing both medical care and education. Many graduates of their Training School for Nurses became leaders in the nursing profession throughout southwestern Oklahoma before the School closed in 1927.
In 1936, Dr. Barber and Dr. Dunlap formed a corporation with four other physicians: Drs. L. W. Ferguson, Fred T. Fox, Sr., O. L. Parsons and G. G. Downing. The Corporation expanded the facility to 40 beds and renamed it Southwestern Clinic Hospital. Under this name, the Hospital remained until the 1970s, expanding along the way from 40 to 127 beds while the Corporation expanded to a 13 member board of physician-owners. In 1970, the physicians sold the Hospital, then the largest privately owned medical institution in the state, to Chanco Medical and Electronics Enterprises. American Medical International, Inc. (AMI) acquired the Hospital in 1972 and returned its name to Southwestern Hospital in 1977. AMI built a new 106,000 square foot regional medical complex just a few miles west at 5602 S. W. Lee Boulevard in 1986, renaming the institution Southwestern Medical Center.
Southwestern became a member of the nation’s first employee-owned healthcare company in 1988 when it joined the EPIC Healthcare Group. Ownership was transferred when EPIC merged with HealthTrust, Inc., in 1994. Southwestern became part of America’s largest healthcare company when HCA, The Healthcare Company, merged with HealthTrust in February, 1995. Today, Southwestern Medical Center is a modern 243,267 square foot regional healthcare center where new technology is consistently incorporated. In December 2005, Southwestern Medical Center was purchased by Capella Healthcare. Capella’s mission is to provide quality healthcare services in the communities it serves and will provide that healthcare in an affordable and easily accessible manner. Privately owned and self-sustaining for nearly a century, Southwestern Medical Center is a major force in Southwest Oklahoma with its tradition to nurture, heal and help. In the past year, the medical center contributed over $600,000 to the community in services, taxes and donations. Affiliation with Capella enables Southwestern Medical Center to envision a future of continued growth while maintaining the legacy of Drs. Turner and Lewis: bring the latest medical technology home to Lawton, Oklahoma, to assure our friends and neighbors the best healthcare possible. It’s a matter of history; it’s a matter of pride.