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Celebrating 70 Years of Service

Celebrating 70 Years of Service

Sunday, October 23, 2022, marks the 70th Anniversary of the opening of Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. Over the past 70 years, Memorial has grown from one 100-bed hospital to the largest locally owned comprehensive health system in southwest Louisiana, including three hospitals, over 20 clinics, and more than 100 employed physicians. Additionally, Memorial is one of SWLA’s largest employers, providing careers for 2,500-plus team members. From one facility in 1952 to a complete and comprehensive health system in 2022, the mission of the Lake Charles Memorial Health System remains the same: to improve the health of all people in southwest Louisiana.

The hospital’s origin goes back to 1947 when the Calcasieu Parish Medical Society filed a request with the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury to be permitted to operate a 75-bed hospital at the deactivated Lake Charles Air Force Base on a temporary basis to meet the healthcare needs of the community due to the recent population influx. The Calcasieu Parish Hospital opened in that location on April 1, 1947, and it was stated that it would remain in operation until a new hospital could be built.

In 1948, the U.S. Public Health Service approved a federal grant of $422,667 for the Calcasieu Parish Hospital Corporation to assist the new hospital project. The request was made by the corporation, in which Dr. Walter O. Moss was president. The request by the Calcasieu Parish Medical Society was finally granted to build a hospital in Lake Charles. In December of 1949, a steering committee was developed to incorporate the non-profit organization known as Southwest Louisiana Hospital Association.

The area that was dedicated to building Lake Charles Memorial Hospital was situated in an up-and-coming neighborhood, Oak Park. Although there was another option of land to build the hospital, on the west side of Lake Charles near the lake, the planning committee thought it would best to build in the direction the town was starting to move: the southeast section. This would allow for easy access to medical care close to families moving to the area.

Grassroots fundraising efforts were launched to “request a donation from every resident.” Just two months after the launching of the fundraising drive, records show that over $620,000 had been donated and pledges were still to be collected. This incredible response from the community further illustrated the desire for a hospital of this nature.

When the community asked for a hospital, we built a health system. The area’s largest, community-owned, not-for-profit, healthcare system, is dedicated to improving the health of the people of southwest Louisiana.

When you think of your healthcare home, think of Memorial.