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About Us - WCH History

View of Whipple Barracks tuberculosis wards and other buildings when operated as U.S. Army General Hospital #20. (Sharlot Hall Museum)

The medical arts as practiced in the Old West often meant the difference between life and death for American pioneers. Whether the challenge was sickness, an arrow, a gunshot wound, or a fall from a horse, a pioneer in the western territories required care for medical emergencies, but often had to make do until a doctor could be found.

In 1864, a U.S. Army post named Fort Whipple was established north of Wickenburg near Prescott, Arizona. The post served as the capital of the Arizona Territory until 1912 when Arizona became a state. One year later the post was retired and converted into a military hospital and used during World War I and World War II.(1) Likewise, the first hospital developed south of Wickenburg in 1895. It originated through the Sisters of Mercy who initially arrived in Phoenix, Arizona to open a parish school. After observing the suffering of many tuberculosis victims, the Sisters of Mercy decided to raise funds, rent a six bedroom brick cottage, and equip each room with two beds for tuberculosis patients. Thus, St. Joseph’s Sanitarium was born.(2)

In 1926, the first and only hospital was established and located at 74 West Wickenburg Way, in Wickenburg. [This building later became the location of Soroptimist International Thrift Store.]

In 1936, Dr. James Copeland and his wife owned and operated the local hospital. At that time only three doctors practiced medicine in Wickenburg. In 1937 Dr. Copeland getting on in years, first leased and later sold the hospital to Dr. Floyd Bralliar. Dr. Bralliar quickly added six rooms, which increased the bed capacity to twenty.

Dr. Bralliar owned and operated the hospital for almost ten years. During this time he performed surgery daily, mostly under spinal anesthesia and later it was reported that he trained his nurse to give Pentothal. In 1945 Dr. Bralliar was involved in a plane crash and was unable to operate the hospital for a year while recovering. For a short period of time the hospital ran under the supervision of a licensed practical nurse, however with Dr. Bralliar unable to resume operations, the hospital was in danger of closing.

A local man, Mr. Ewald Stein learned of the problem and steadfastly led a drive to save the hospital. Assisting him were two well-known Wickenburg gentlemen, Mr. C.W. (Wes) Paige and Mr. Hal Warner. The three formed the original Community Hospital Association, Inc., now doing business as the Wickenburg Community Hospital. These men undertook the task of persuading the community to acquire and save the local hospital. This was not an easy endeavor. According to Mr. Stein, many people argued against purchasing the hospital and felt it wasn’t needed. After numerous public meetings and much salesmanship, the group gained authority to raise $25,000.00 through the sale of $1.00 ten year bonds to purchase the hospital from Dr. Bralliar.

The Community Hospital Association, Inc. set up bylaws and appointed a Board of Directors to run the hospital. In time, the Board hired its first administrator. The Hospital was running so successfully, it was able to redeem all bonds after only two years and celebrated by throwing a bond burning party.

In 1954, the Board of Directors made plans to increase the size and services of the hospital. Another bond drive was led by Mr. Harold Eckhart to help finance the construction of a new facility. Assistance was also received from the Hill-Burton Act, a U.S. federal law passed in 1946 in response to the first of President Truman’s proposals to provide federal grants and guaranteed loans to improve the physical plant of the nation’s hospital system. The money was designated to States to achieve 4.5 beds per 1,000 people. States allocated available money to their various municipalities.

Wickenburg Community Hospital, 1957

In 1957, the new hospital was constructed on land donated by Dr. Bralliar at its present location between Bralliar Road and Rose Lane (520 Rose Lane).

In 1984, a forty-bed nursing home wing was added. The wing was made possible by a generous commemorative gift by local resident, Mrs. Viola Wellik. A treatment wing was also added to the original building.

In 1986 major reconstruction of the Emergency Department was completed.

1988 – 1995 The Wickenburg Regional Health Care Foundation was created to assure the continuance of quality health care for Wickenburg and the surrounding region with supplemental funds through philanthropy. Now operating as the Wickenburg Community Hospital Foundation, it continues ongoing philanthropic support to fund vitally important healthcare facilities, equipment, and wellness services for the hospital. Expansion and modernization projects completed during this time include the laboratory, nursing home, radiology department, mammography machine, ophthalmic stretcher, physical therapy, memorial courtyard, plus ongoing development, operation, and maintenance of services.

1996 – The first expansion and modernization of the Emergency Department was made possible by a generous gift from the William N. and Myriam Pennington Foundation.

2004 – The hospital conducted an extensive facility wide remodeling project. This was a much needed project after 47 years post initial build of the facility.

2010 – The Boyd Infusion Center opened inside the recently remodeled hospital. In addition, the organization’s first Rural Health Clinic named Community Hospital Clinic was opened to serve the needs of the community. The clinic was located at 523 Rose Lane, directly across the street from the hospital.

2012 – The Community Hospital Clinic in Congress opened along with the Laser & Rejuvenation Center inside the hospital.

2014 – The Hospital Board of Directors authorized the development of a new Surgical and Diagnostic Center to provide a variety of needed services including orthopedic and general surgery, diagnostic and treatment scopes, optical, urological, podiatric, and cosmetic surgery. Spearheaded by WCH Foundation Board chairman at the time Art Ditto and previous WCH President & CEO Jim Tavary, a campaign to raise funds and expand began. Due to the generosity of individuals and businesses in the community $7.5 million was raised in funding and pledges. This helped convince the US Department of Agriculture to grant WCH a $16.7million loan. Ten million dollars of the loan went toward construction of the surgical and diagnostic center as well as a new medical office building (519 & 523 Rose Lane), and the remainder was applied to refinance existing debt.

2016 – The new 10,500 sq. ft. surgical and diagnostic center opened, equipped with the latest technology and staffed by two experienced surgeons who practiced solely in Wickenburg – orthopedic surgeon Mitch Wagner, MD, and general surgeon Robert Ripley, MD. In addition, approximately 15 staff members were newly hired. Three surgical nurses, two operating room technologists, one scrub tech and one nurse where also brought on board, along with six support staff. This addition of surgical services was a major milestone in the hospital’s growth.

Chairman of the WCH Board of Directors at the time, Dee Pollock, said “This achievement is certainly testimony to the power of great teamwork amongst many people. Makes one very proud to be a part of this team, and I think we are going to see enormous success in the months and years to come.”

2017 – Air Evac Services, Inc.  stationed a base at Wickenburg Community Hospital. Air Evac’s partnership with WCH started in 2011; providing air transport services from the hospital to those needing expeditious transfer to a higher level of care. Along with a reduction in response times, Air Evac Services ensured a level of safety unmatched in the air medical industry. This added service to Wickenburg also benefits the local and surrounding service providers including Fire Department, Ambulance and Law Enforcement. These providers will contribute to safe operations by utilizing the helicopter stationed at the hospital as opposed to launching a helicopter to the scene. Linda Brockwell, BSN, MBA, Director of Nursing Services at the time was a key advocate in attaining this service for the community.

“In addition to providing the transport service, Air Evac, Inc. has been an integral part of our community; participating in emergency preparedness exercises, health fairs, local fundraising events and educational activities” says Brockwell. “We are thrilled to have them join us in this capacity”.

2018 – The Community Hospital Clinic in Wittmann opens on the Nadaburg School District campus, situated in the office building offering medical care for patients of all ages, including laboratory and phlebotomy services. The new clinic allowed WCH to provide quality care to Wittmann residents in their own community, helping to eliminate transportation as a barrier to healthcare. Provider, Matt Jones, FNP-C, is the primary provider practicing out of the Wittmann clinic.

“Every aspect of medicine is fascinating and yet most important is the health and well-being of each and every patient. As a Family Nurse Practitioner, I provide continuing and comprehensive health care for each individual patient across all ages, genders and diseases” says Jones.

2019 – Arizona’s 1st Telepharmacy opened inside the Community Hospital Clinic – Congress. Congress Clinic Pharmacy opened its doors providing pharmacy services to Congress, Arizona and its surrounding rural communities. Being a telepharmacy means that it is staffed by a licensed pharmacy technician who dispenses medications, and the prescriptions are verified by a pharmacist at the Wickenburg Community Hospital Pharmacy using a secure software system, called TelePharm. The Wickenburg Community Hospital pharmacist also performs patient consultations through a secure video call. The experience for patients is virtually the same as with any traditional pharmacy, aside from speaking to the pharmacist face to face via a HIPAA compliant video chat.

2020 – The next Emergency Department (ED) Renovation was completed. This extensive renovation included creating a separate Emergency Walk-In Entrance, reallocating space to create a designated registration and waiting area strictly for ED patients, and a triage exam room. In addition, each of the 8 exam rooms were updated to include electronic, glass sliding doors, new flooring and complete redesign to increase patient privacy. All areas of the ED were renovated to optimize employee work flow and improve patient care. This renovation was a critical need for rural access to emergency care. The project was driven primarily by the need to accommodate a significant increase in utilization of the emergency department over the past 5 years; a trend that continues to climb as local population increases.

The Rehabilitation Center also underwent a significant renovation to improve office and patient care spaces. Renovations were complete with the installation of a practice kitchen and bathtub for improved occupational therapy, top-of-the-line equipment and new flooring optimal for patient treatment practices. This full scale renovation also included the waiting area, registration and employee work spaces.

2022 – The first Urgent Care Clinic is opened by WCH, QWickCare Urgent Care. The Urgent Care first opened in the available medical space at the 519 Rose Lane providing quality healthcare to those in urgent need when an emergency room visit is unwarranted and they are unable to see primary care provider.

2023 – Banner Health generously gifted WCH the commercial building and associated land previously known as the Del E. Webb Health Center (Health Center) of Wickenburg located at 1395 W. Wickenburg Way. The building had remained unoccupied since WCH’s specialists transitioned out of it and into the newly built medical office building on Rose Lane back in 2016. Banner’s contribution of additional healthcare space to WCH will support the continued evolution and development of healthcare services in Wickenburg, which, in turn, will foster population growth. WCH plans to relocate the QWickCare Urgent Care to this location after all renovations are complete, potentially Fall of 2024.


  1. US Department of Government Affairs (department.va.gov)
  2. St. Joseph’s Foundation (supportstjosephs.org)