Fort Bayard Medical Center History
For more info on The Original Fort Bayard's past and future click here: Fort Bayard Historical Preservation Society
Fort Bayard was established in 1866. The fort served as home to Indian scouts and Buffalo Soldiers and played a key role during the Apache Wars. The post was decommissioned in 1900, but Army Surgeon General George M. Sternberg, noting the good health enjoyed by Fort Bayard troops, successfully worked to maintain the post as an Army hospital – primarily for tuberculosis patients.
In 1922 the fort was transferred to the Veterans’ Administration and became US Veterans’ Hospital No. 55. An explosion in support for veterans, led by such groups as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, led to the modernization of facilities in the early ‘20s. Later, a nine-hole golf course with fairways made of native grasses was installed for veterans and TB patients’ diversion.
During the 1930s, many Civilian Conservation Corps boys were brought to the hospital to be treated for minor afflictions. Fort Bayard gained new buildings and landscaping as part of New Deal work relief projects. With the exception of four relatively minor contemporary buildings, the WPA projects would complete the built environment and cultural landscape that characterizes much of the historic district today.
Between 1943 and 1945, while treatment for TB continued, as many as 100 German prisoners of war were brought to the fort from the large POW camp near Lordsburg. Housed in a building north of the hospital and guarded by two platoons of soldiers, they were assigned jobs that were left vacant by men who had been called to duty overseas.
With the discovery of streptomycin in 1944 and eventually other drugs that treated tuberculosis, sanatoriums became medical anachronisms. Fort Bayard continued to serve veterans until the VA decided to close it in 1965. In part because of concerns of the local communities that depended on the hospital for employment, the State of New Mexico assumed responsibility for the facility and 484 acres of the former military reservation.
Fort Bayard Medical Center is now licensed and certified as a 200-bed long-term care nursing facility. Yucca Lodge, an 18-bed chemical dependency treatment center located on the campus, just celebrated its 32nd anniversary. Services include in-patient and out-patient programs.
Fort Bayard Cemetery became part of the National Cemetery system and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 7, 2002.
In 2005, Fort Bayard Hospital was renamed the Fort Bayard Medical Center by statute.
The old fort’s long history as a health facility is coming to an end. The Department gained $60 million to build a new facility basically across the street from the old one. It will be one story, eliminating the need for staff and residents to use elevators. The new building also will include a safer outdoor area for residents, X-ray rooms, dental clinic, meditation room, salon/spa, library, computer lab and training rooms. The new building will also have a separate wing for residents with Alzheimer’s.
The new facility is being paid for by bonds issued by Grant County. Grant County is working with the Department of Health, Jaynes Corporation and the New Mexico General Services Department on the design and construction of the new building.
A New Era has begun! The New FBMC/FBSVH facility is up and running as of November 1st 2010! Check our Photos page for the new facility and check our News and Updates page for all the current news!