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LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- Comanche County Memorial Hospital held a special ceremony marking the completion of phase 2 of the Drewry Family Emergency Center — and those in attendance got a little glimpse into the past.

Phase 2 was all about renovating old rooms inside the emergency center and creating more space.

“There was people in cots laying in the hallway with IV’s in them. It looked like a third world country. So we knew we had to do something,” said Dennis Butler, the Board of Trustees Chairman.

They now have 36 beds, in addition to new psych rooms, obstetrical rooms, and trauma rooms.

“You create capacity, the volume goes up, and the word of mouth..’hey I went in, and got treated well, and got treated promptly. And they took care of me,'” said Dr. Ben Cooper, the Administrative Physician at CCMH.

There’s also new equipment for the staff, and it was all made possible by a generous donation from the Drewry Family.

“On behalf of the board of trustees I’d like to give thanks to the Drewry family for your generous contribution,” said Butler.

“It’s really exciting because I’ve had a lot of people come to me and tell me how beautiful the new emergency room is and how much more comfortable…And I worked here on trauma and that was one reason why we gave the money to the emergency rooms because that was one area that needed to be bigger….It’s for everybody in Lawton. This is for everyone to come here in Lawton and get seen quicker and I think it’s more comfortable for them now….I think since it’s now in two sections I think that it’s made it a lot easier for the patients to get seen,” explained Stephanie Drewry.

And, for even more evidence of just how far the hospital has come, they opened two time capsules: one from the 1950’s and another from the 1980’s. There were even a few stories from people who were there back then.

“Oh. I was in charge of the emergency room for a number of years and I worked emergency room years here,” said Marge Roberts, a former CCMH ER nurse.

Marge Roberts was a nurse in the ER in 1967 when there was only 2 to 3 room. She just retired 3 years ago, but remembers when they didn’t even have emergency room doctors.

“We had to have the private doctors had to take calls. If somebody came in, we’d have to find them to come in, and it might be an eye doctor that had to come in for a laceration or for something bad. It didn’t matter what their specialty was, if they were on call they had to come in or find somebody to do it for them,” said Roberts.

Dr. Ben Cooper was the first full-time ER physician who worked there.

“We started I think maybe only had 5 rooms. It was very small. You couldn’t even turn the beds around sometimes. We saw 7 people a day and that’s a 24-hour shift. But as people realized there was somebody in the emergency room to see, it gradually took off. And as we added rooms, we’d add volume. Add more rooms, add more volume, add more staff, it’d add more volume. It’s just kept up and kept going,” said Dr. Cooper.

He says back in 1973, the ER saw just over 2,900 patients on average. And now, they see from 55 to 73 thousand patients a year. He and Roberts both believe the renovations will better serve the community.

“I’m proud of it, and the way it all came together. It’s taking care of a lot more patients, a lot better equipment,” said Roberts.

“We’re all grateful to have this facility and the leadership at the hospital that had the vision to do it. And probably the other thing is all the great people. The nurses, the techs that have worked here for years,” said Dr. Cooper.

CCMH also buried a new time capsule so people can remember this momentous occasion years into the future.

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