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From the Military to Railroads, an Evolution of Health Care in Albany CountyIvinson Memorial Hospital has had quite a history, but prior to its establishment, health care in Albany County was pioneered by various entities including the Union Pacific Railroad and the United States military. Homes of physicians and nurses were even sites of small medical facilities during the late 1800's and early 1900's.
Gertrude Gould, a former Ivinson Memorial Hospital board member, wrote a book called "History of Health and Hospitals in Albany County, Wyoming", which traced steps of various health care institutions that eventually led to Ivinson Memorial Hospital's establishment in 1917.
Gould's historical account begins in 1868 when the first known hospital was created at Fort Sanders. Surviving 16 years, Fort Sanders' hospital was primarily meant for military personnel and was abandoned in 1882 when the fort shut down.
Another hospital, initiated by the Union Pacific Railroad, was located on the west side of Laramie near what is now Fremont Street and operated during the same time period as Fort Sanders. This hospital is estimated to have closed in 1871 as railroad construction continued westward.
A marked evolutionary change in health care occurred in 1883 when the Catholic Sisters of Charity came from Cheyenne determined to build a hospital in Laramie. Successful in their endeavor, St. Joseph's hospital was erected through tireless fundraising and an appropriation from the Territorial Legislature. The Albany County Commissioners paid the hospital for services provided to patients unable to pay. However, financial hardships finally led to St. Joseph's demise in 1895. Prior to being torn down, the University of Wyoming used this building under the name of Talbott Hall.
During the early 1890's, the Albany County Commissioners started providing health care to the poor and indigent with the development of a "poor farm" that eventually evolved into the County Hospital. Primarily serving paupers, County Hospital stayed in commission until 1950 when Ivinson Memorial Hospital took over control. It was completely closed in 1965 when its services were no longer necessary.
Following the downfall of St. Joseph's, several hospitals surfaced throughout Laramie in different homes of physicians and nurses. The McCormack Hospital, which was located at 465 N. Fifth, is one of the homes still standing today. Other home hospitals included the Lawrence Hospital where City Hall currently stands; the Northrup Hospital in a home still located at 619 S. Fifth Street; the Hortonstein Hospital at 407 S. Fifth Street; and the Grand Avenue Hospital at 603 Grand.
Ivinson Memorial Hospital was constructed in 1917 and was first located at 10th and Ivinson Avenue (at the time this road was known as Thornburgh), which is currently home to the University of Wyoming Police Department. Realizing the need for expansion, citizens of Laramie voted in 1968 to develop a hospital district to aid in funding construction for a new building for Ivinson Memorial Hospital. The hospital's new building was completed in 1973 at its current location of 255 North 30th Street.
During the past 28 years, the hospital has improved the care it provides Laramie residents exponentially, and in the spirit of progress opened the Meredith and Jeannie Ray Cancer Center in March 2002. The regional cancer center provides highly advanced medical oncology and radiation oncology care.