Founded by Benjamin Russell to provide health services for the employees of Russell Manufacturing Company and residents of Alexander City, Russell Hospital opened its doors Wednesday, July 17, 1923. The 55-bed hospital was built on Lee Street on the current site of the Alexander City Board of Education. The Colonial style structure featured three and one-half stories consisting of a large central structure and two wings. The east wing contained the private rooms while the west wing contained the ward. The hospital provided general medical, surgical and obstetrical services.
Shortly after its opening a training school for nurses was conducted under the supervision of Miss Maysie McWilliams, superintendent of the hospital. During the school’s duration eighteen diplomas were presented to nurses.
James A. Chapman joined Russell Hospital in 1925 as Chief of Staff and continued to serve as company doctor until his retirement in the early 1950’s.
In 1941 an annex consisting of five private rooms and a nursery was added to the rear of the first floor of Russell Hospital. In that same year, Mrs. Elisabeth Russell (Mrs. J.C.) Alison, the only daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Benjamin Russell, was elected a vice president of Russell Manufacturing Company and President and Chairman of the Board of Russell Hospital. She supervised the management of the hospital and served as President and Chairman of the Board until her death in 1970.
In 1948 another expansion project resulted in the addition of a new delivery room, lying-in room, a ward, additional private room and sterilizing room. The nursery was enlarged and a pediatrics ward was opened in the central structure. In addition, an annex extending from the east wing was completed containing seven rooms for medical and surgical patients. A free clinic for Russell employees and their families was also moved to the basement of the new addition.
By 1952 nurses lived on the grounds of the hospital in a 10-bedroom house complete with living room and kitchen. Although the hospital has always been opened to the public, it was maintained by Russell Manufacturing Company (which later became Russell Corporation, an international textile manufacturing company) throughout the first decades. Mr. J.C. Thornton served as the first business manager.
In 1953, James W Brown, Jr. became hospital administrator. The hospital attained a giant step in 1959 with accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals. That same year the Russell Hospital Corporation was organized and the original Russell Hospital was transferred to the Corporation. Upon transfer the Corporation began planning for a replacement facility. The existing site, located on US Highway 280, was acquired from Russell Corporation and construction of a new 100-bed facility commenced in 1963.
The doors of the new hospital, characterized by the modern forest green tile, were opened to the public on February 2, 1965. The four-story structure contained 62,000 square feet of floor space. Archives from The Alexander City Outlook noted “Rock of a rather hard quality was encountered in digging the foundation of the building and over 3,500 sticks of dynamite were required to blast out an adequate foundation.”
The medical facilities were again expanded in 1977, 1990, 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2008. In 1989 the Professional Office Building, adjacent to the hospital was constructed and dedicated in honor of Mr. James Brown. In 1996 the facility name was changed from Russell Hospital and Healthcare Centers to Russell Medical Center, reflecting the changes in services, technology and complexity.
Frank Harris was named President and CEO in 1994. The complex underwent substantial transformations under his tenure. The 1998 expansion project was the largest undertaking and included expansion of ambulatory surgery; conversion to all private patient rooms; ground floor addition of 7,300 square feet, first floor increase of 29,500 square feet, second floor increase of 15,500 square feet and third floor increase of 3,140 square feet. Hallmarks of this expansion included expanding space for clerical and patient care areas, fixed base MRI and a cardiac catheterization lab; improved efficiency of the intensive care unit and addition of an intermediate care (step-down) unit. The third floor proudly opened four state-of-the-art birthing suites and enhanced pediatric wing.
In 2001, Phase II of the expansion program was completed with the addition of The Russell Medical Cancer Center, The Sleep Disorders Center at Russell Medical and Medical Park Family Care, located 17 miles away in Dadeville, AL.
Phase III was completed in 2004 featuring Total Fitness, a 20,000 square foot fitness and rehabilitation facility housing cardiac rehabilitation, physical therapy, sports medicine, occupational therapy, medical fitness and aquatic therapy. 30,000 square feet of additional office space was added to the Professional Office Building for physician office suites; 3,000 square feet was added to the clinical laboratory and a new outpatient dialysis suite was constructed. The area’s first true open MRI was also added to enhance diagnostic imaging capabilities at Russell Medical.
L.E. Peace, III became Russell Medical’s current President and CEO in January, 2008. Under his leadership a new strategic initiative was launched, new mission statement adopted, and multiple construction projects and technology upgrades implemented.
In February, 2011, Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine at Russell Medical was open in a satellite location on Alison Drive, providing hyperbaric oxygen therapy to patients with non-healing wounds.
A 2.2 million da Vinci Robotic Surgical System was purchased in summer 2011, providing cutting edge robot-assisted surgery capabilities for patients in our region.
Russell Medical was proud to be named one of the 100 Top Hospitals® for 2011 by Thompson Reuters, a leading provider of information and solutions to improve the cost and quality of healthcare. In addition, Russell Medical was also named an Everest Award recipient for 2011, one of only six hospitals nation-wide to receive this award. The Everest Award honors hospitals that have achieved both the highest current performance and the fastest long-term improvement over five years.
January, 2012 marked the hallmark of another milestone as Russell Medical proudly announced a newly formed joint venture business relationship with the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation. This new partnership, UAB Medicine – Russell Medical Cancer Center, was the first relationship of its type for both parties and designed to enhance oncology services provided in the Lake Martin Area.
Projects in 2012- 2013 included the construction of a new cardiac catheterization lab and an extensive Information Services technology upgrade which integrated electronic medical records and other technological advancements, house wide.
A new hospital-based primary care practice, Total Healthcare, was opened in late 2015, as well as Russell Medical’s first rural health clinic, Health Partners of Goodwater, located in neighboring Coosa County. In addition, a new Varian linear accelerator was installed in UAB Medicine – Russell Medical Cancer Center. In 2016 the facility changed its name and brand to Russell Medical; recruited a new physician to the Medical Park Family Care Center in Dadeville, AL, and welcomed a new medical director for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine. In addition, a new high-speed ct imaging machine was installed in the outpatient diagnostics center.
2017 marked the year for construction of an expansive, new facility on campus housing Total Healthcare and a separate Urgent Care clinic. In 2018, the parent company acquired an additional 7 acres and the former Russell Retail building, extending the campus to Elkahatchee Road. The landmark triangular-shape building was redesigned and opened as The Mill 280 multi-purpose event venue. This re-purposed space filled a void in the community and continues to be booked and utilized the majority of the calendar year
To meet the growing demands of post-acute care, The Transitional Care Unit opened in 2019 for patients who have suffered acute medical or surgical events as a result of an illness, injury or exacerbation of a disease process. The goal of transitional care is to improve and return to a more independent setting, typically home, in a short period of time.
On January 1, 2020, Russell Medical entered into a management agreement and became a member of the UAB Health System, following action by the respective boards of both organizations earlier in November, 2019. Russell Medical has been a strategic affiliate of UAB for several years, participating in cancer and tele-medicine networks along with outreach in a number of medical specialties, including cardiovascular care, urology and surgery.
“We have a long history with UAB that has served this hospital and the residents of Alexander City and the surrounding area well,” said Jim Peace, Russell’s CEO. “The new management agreement only strengthens that relationship and ensures Russell continues to deliver the exceptional medical care that our community expects.”
Our goal is to continue to be the community’s most trusted provider of integrated healthcare as we live our mission daily: Being the best, because we care.