In 1965, the hospital completed its busiest year ever. RMH continued to grow and expand the services that it offered to the surrounding community. Another successful fundraising campaign allowed a nine-bed ward for mental health patients to be opened in 1967.
In November 1968, a $4 million addition was opened, with new Lab and X-ray departments, as well as new, modern operating rooms, a 37-bed Pediatrics Department, and an upgraded Dietary Department.
The new patient rooms were all air conditioned, with individual room thermostats and built-in conveniences. The new patient beds could be raised and lowered electrically, which helped provide comfort for the patient's individual needs.
In 1975, a two-story addition that included a new, more spacious and technologically advanced Emergency Department opened at the corner of Mason Street and Cantrell Avenue.
By the late 1960s, the need for an Emergency Room with its own full-time physicians was apparent to all. Until that time, anyone who came to the hospital in urgent need of medical services was cared for by medical staff members who shared this responsibility while running their own office practices and taking care of their own patients in the hospital.
Due to the increased population, more automobile and industrial accidents and the gradual reduction in the number of doctors keeping evening office hours, the volume of emergency room work placed an almost intolerable burden on the medical staff members, according to Liskey. "Those doctors having weekend duty were almost exhausted from trying to keep that schedule," he said.17
By the late 1960s, the need for a formal Emergency Room with its own full-time physicians had become apparent. Dr. Richard Smith, shown with employers Juanita Taylor, left, and Pauline Halterman, agreed to serve as the hospital's first full-time emergency physician, relieving the burden on physicians who were juggling office hours, in-hospital patient visits, and emergency room duty.
The problem was solved, at least temporarily, when Dr. Richard Smith agreed to take over duty as a full-time emergency room physician. This ended most of the constant complaints and problems related to staffing the Emergency Room that had landed on Liskey's desk.
"Dr. Smith, by taking that position, probably extended my life by many years," Liskey noted with a laugh.18
Liskey added that routine staffing for emergencies meant the hospital was equipped to offer more efficient services.19
In 1975, a new two-story addition opened at the corner of Mason Street and Cantrell Avenue. The new addition housed a more spacious and up-to-date Emergency Department on the first floor and new, technologically advanced critical care and progressive care units on the second floor.
Building expansion continued during the early 1980s with an $8 million, four-story addition that created a main hospital entrance facing Cantrell Avenue, and the construction of a three-level parking deck. The new building addition housed a lobby and expanded space for Admitting and the Business offices; Central Sterilization Services, the Pharmacy, and Purchasing/Materials Management; and a Dialysis unit, a Physical Therapy Department and a Respiratory Care unit.20
In addition, the Labor and Delivery department, and the Infant Nursery were enlarged. The five new labor rooms and three new delivery rooms were all private. In addition, a four-bed maternal recovery room allowed close monitoring of new mothers immediately following delivery. The recovery room allowed mothers and fathers to establish the important initial bonding with their child in the first hours after birth.
An important program addition in the 1980s was the Hospice program. This concept of providing unique care and support for terminally ill patients and their families was brought to the attention of the Board of Trustees in 1980 by a group of local women affiliated with a number of churches in the area. The Board realized that this was a valuable need for the community, and after a study of such programs, authorized the addition to the hospital.
A six-bed Hospice unit was established and was staffed by specially trained nurses and volunteers. The volunteers were, and still are, a key element of the benefits offered by Hospice. They not only serve in the hospital, but also help families in their homes, under the supervision of the Hospice nursing staff. The community responded generously to the establishment of this program not only with volunteers, but also by donating furniture, equipment and consistent personal support.
In 1982 the hospital's address changed when a new $8 million, four-story addition opened with a lobby that fronted on Cantrell Avenue.