FMH Celebrates 50 Years

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Community focused

FMH was founded on a philosophy and passion for meeting community needs. After all, it was our community’s efforts and generous citizenry that  built the hospital.

After the recent years we’ve faced, and as we head into the future, our mission is clear; whatever it takes to serve the people of Fairbanks and the Interior, we’ll make it work. 

With the community behind us, and employing some of the brightest, most compassionate people under our roof, we celebrate our past and hope to inspire a healthy future.

1967 Chena River Flood

The Chena River flood of 1967 devastated St. Joseph’s Hospital, the original hospital in Fairbanks. This disaster flood left the Interior’s only hospital beyond repair.

A $5.5 Million bond issue for a new hospital in Fairbanks went on the ballot in early October of 1967, but locals voted down the bond issue for a government owned hospital.

1968 The Greater Fairbanks Community Hospital Foundation is established

The Greater Fairbanks Community Hospital Foundation, led by Harry “Red” Porter, was established in 1968 to plan, fund, construct and find an operator for the new hospital. 

The community fundraising campaign began to construct Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. The $1 million pledge goal was doubled by April of 1968. With about $6 million in State and Federal matching funds in hand, the Fairbanks Hospital Foundation raised another $500,000 from the community to finish paying for the new $8.5 million hospital.

1970 Groundbreaking

The groundbreaking began for the new Fairbanks Memorial Hospital in May 1970. Lutheran Hospital and Homes Society, based in Fargo, North Dakota, was selected as the first operator of FMH. 

1972 The New Hospital Opens

The new hospital opened on March 19, 1972. It was 116 beds and 120,000 square feet in size. Due to the tremendous community fundraising support, the new hospital opened its doors debt-free.  

The hospital opened just in time for the community’s second boom, construction of the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline. The town’s population swelled and again, so did the demand for health care services.

1978 North Tower Construction + ICU Opens

The addition of the much needed ICU to the hospital came in 1978. Patients who needed critical care no longer had to be flown to Anchorage or Seattle for treatment. 

1981 Women's Center

Due to the rising number of births in Fairbanks, a new addition was made to the hospital in 1981. The new Women’s Center offered private inpatient and delivery rooms for the growing population.

1983 South Tower Construction

In 1982, the year that Alaskan residents received their first dividend checks of $1,000, construction began for the five-story South Tower. The addition was completed in 1983, bringing the total number of hospital beds from 145 to 162. 

At the time, the tower was built, the top two floors were left unfinished to provide space for future expansion needs.  

1991 First MRI Machine + First Accreditation by The Joint Commission

FMH begins its commitment to state-of-the-art equipment by purchasing the first MRI machine in 1991. 

FMH received our first accreditation from The Joint Commission in 1991. The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits more than 22,000 U.S. health care organizations and programs. The rigorous accreditation process is the “seal of approval” that health care facilities are providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission was founded in 1951 to continuously improve health care for the public by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care. FMH has been accredited by the Joint Commission for over 30 years, since 1991. 

1992 The Women's Center Remodeled

The Women’s Center was remodeled in 1992 to create labor, delivery and recovery rooms at FMH. 

1996 The Outpatient Surgery Center Opens

The hospital’s Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center, which is devoted to the care of Alaska Natives, was moved to the newly remodeled third and fourth floors of the South Tower in 1996. 

This made room to build and expand the hospital’s Outpatient Center. The Outpatient Center was designed to house outpatient surgery, special procedures, rehabilitation therapy and the PACE program. The FMH Outpatient Surgery Center was opened in 1996.

1999 Lutheran Health System and Samaritan Health System merged to create Banner Health

FMH’s operator, Lutheran Health System and Samaritan Health System merged to create Banner Health in 1999. Banner Health was FMH’s operator from then until January 1, 2017. 

2000 Fairbanks Cancer Treatment Center Opens

The Foundation built the Canter Treatment Center in 1999, and radiation therapy was offered for the first time in Fairbanks. Although CTC was projected to lose money in its first five years of operation, the Foundation opened it anyway, believing it was simply the right thing to do for the community.

The Fairbanks Cancer Treatment Center opened in 2000 – the first accredited cancer center program in Alaska. The Center was renamed in memory of J. Michael Carroll in 2011. The Breast Cancer Program has been accredited by the NAPBC since 2009.

2003 East Tower Addition

The FMH East Tower addition was completed in 2003. The 41,000 square foot tower was built to house the laboratory and pathology departments. 

The original laboratory, built in 1972, no longer met the needs of our growing staff and new equipment. 

2004 Diabetes Center

Through the hard work and dedication of the physician community and staff, FMH received a $116,000 grant to start a community diabetes education partnership. 

FMH opened the Diabetes Center, a diabetes educational and outreach program, in the fall of 2004 to treat one of Alaska’s fastest growing diseases. 

2005 The Fairbanks Imaging Center Opens

Attached to FMH, the Fairbanks Imaging Center was opened in 2005 for early detection, examination and diagnosis.

2007 Emergency Department upgrade + Cardiac Catheterization Lab opens

The FMH Emergency Department underwent a major upgrade in 2007 to become a state-of-the art trauma facility – the only in northern Alaska. 

Before our Cardiology Clinic opened in 2007, residents of Fairbanks had to travel to Anchorage or the Lower 48 when they had a need for cardiac services. This meant being away from family and friends, and the possibility of recovery and rehabilitation miles form home. The FMH cardiac catheterization lab opened in 2007, providing the first care of its kind in the Interior and saving precious time for patients having a cardiac event.  

2008/2009 VISTA awards

FMH received back-to-back VISTA awards from the American Hospital Association and American Society for Healthcare Engineering in 2008 and 2009, for the Fairbanks Imaging Center and the Laundry/Boiler/Furnace infrastructure. Vista awards are given in three different categories:  new construction, renovation, and infrastructure. Receiving two awards in consecutive years rarely happens. 

2010 Harry & Sally Porter Heart and Vascular Center opens

2010 was an important year for heart care in Fairbanks! The opening of the Harry & Sally Porter Heart and Vascular Center consolidated cardiac care services in one location. The new facility expanded services, increased access to care and increased chance of survival for our friends and neighbors. 

2011 VPP Status

FMH receives Star Level status in the Voluntary Protect Program from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 2011. This allows FMH to be exempt from planned OSHA inspections due to the stringent internal controls in place. Participation in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program demonstrates that FMH is serious about safety. 

2012 FMH Acquires Hospice of the Tanana Valley

FMH purchases Hospice of the Tanana Valley in 2012 and expands the type of medical care that can be provided to people and caregivers who are experiencing an advance, life-limited illness. Hospice care provides compassionate care for people in the last phases of incurable disease so they may live as fully and comfortably as possible. 

2015 Tomosynthesis Machine installed

A 3D breast imaging machine was purchased and installed at the FMH Imagining & Breast Center in 2015. The tomosynthesis machine is breakthrough technology that provides a more clear and accurate view of the breasts. 

2015 da Vinci Surgical System debut

FMH debuts the first and only da Vinci Surgical System (the da Vinci) in Fairbanks in 2015, which allows skilled surgeons the ability to perform certain surgeries with minimally invasive surgery techniques.  

2016 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Remodel

FMH completed a major remodel of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in 2016 to support family centered care. The FMH NICU is Level II and staffed by highly skilled pediatricians and nurses trained in neonatal intensive care. All of our Neonatal nurses are Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Heart Association, and STABLE certified.   

2017 FMH Goes Independent + The New Surgery Tower Opens

Fairbanks Memorial Hospital terminates its operating agreement with Banner Health in 2016, and Foundation Health Partners, a locally-owned organization becomes the new operator of Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, Tanana Valley Clinic and Denali Center on January 1, 2017. 

The new FMH surgery center, the largest infrastructure project since the original construction of the Hospital, was completed in the spring of 2017 – ahead of schedule and below budget. 

2018 The Force CT Scanner installed

The Force CT Scanner was installed at FMH in 2018. The CT offers the industry’s fastest and most versatile scan capabilities. It can scan the entire hear in less than one heartbeat and can perform an entire body scan in just under two seconds. The new technology means with many exams, patients will not have to hold their breath and are more comfortable during the procedure.

2020 Coronavirus Pandemic

The pandemic brought challenging days and difficult nights for over two years.

Our staff continued to put people first, continued to care for the community, and continued to roll out excellence with every action.

We navigated through a very dynamic situation by prioritizing;

  • The health, safety and wellbeing of our patients and residents.
  • The safety, physical, mental and emotional health of our employees.
  • Support for the community through education, guidance and excellent care.
  • Treating those we come into contact with by offering kindness and grace. 

We want to say thank you to all our staff for their continued dedication to our patients, residents and the organization. 

2022 Golden Anniversary

Fairbanks Memorial Hospital reflects on 50 years of caring for not only the Fairbanks community, but all interior Alaska. We are honored and humbled to have provided excellent care to so many of our neighbors, our friends, and even our own family members through every stage of life.

While there have been many advancements in medicine over the past half century, our goal to do the very best we can for our patients, and this community, remains the same. 

Our growth means you’re able to find first-class health care solutions right here at home. It means your family and friends can more easily support you throughout your health care journey. It means your neighbors in Fairbanks and surrounding rural communities can have access to technology and facilities that will help them live a longer, healthier life. After all, the first sentence in our mission statement is people first.  

You are invited to celebrate with us throughout 2022 as we honor our past, and inspire a healthy future for the next 50 years. Thank you for choosing and supporting YOUR locally owned and operated hospital.

Summer Wellness Pop Ups

Join us each Wednesday this summer to try a new activity for free! Sessions will take place on the large grass lot near the north corner of the FMH campus. Parking is available in the adjacent lot. Look for the signs!

Wednesday, July 6 6PM → 7PM

Wednesday, July 13 6PM → 7PM

Wednesday, July 20 6PM → 7PM

Wednesday, July 27 6PM

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Winter Wellness Challenge

Continuing the summer wellness series into winter, we hope to Inspire a Healthy Future. This challenge will encourage you to get outside and get active. Stay tuned.

Let's be Social

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about our history throughout the year. 

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