A large group crowded into a white tent during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new McMahon Tomlinson Nursing Center, nicknamed "the home with a heart," Thursday afternoon.
The brief ceremony including an invocation by Dr. Wayne Morris, introductions and comments by Comanche County Memorial Hospital CEO Randy Segler concluded with 11 people turning over the first shovelfuls of dirt for the approximately $1.5 million project.
Two of those present were especially happy to see the groundbreaking Dr. Charles Graybill and his wife, Betty.
"I was here at the beginning when McMahon Tomlinson Nursing Center was built and I've had a lot of patients in the center over the years," Graybill said. "It has been 50 years and this will be great for the people of Lawton and those in Southwest Oklahoma."
Segler briefly covered the history of the original McMahon Tomlinson Nursing Center and the future with the new state-of-the-art nursing center of the same name. He noted that Sept. 8 will mark the 50th anniversary of the original nursing center.
"I am proud of the legacy of outstanding care that has been going on for nearly 50 years in the original building made possible from a $600,000 donation from the McMahon Foundation and $150,000 of Hill-Burton funds. The land (on Arlington Street) was donated by Emma and Curlee Tomlinson," he said. "The cost of the original project was $613,000 and when the center opened, the cost for a private room was $270 a month."
Times have changed as well as costs the new facility will cost approximately $1.5 million but thanks to the McMahon Foundation the new facility is possible, Segler said.
"It has again been made possible through the generosity of the McMahon Foundation through a donation of $1.5 million and the support of the CCHA Board of Trustees."
The grant by the Foundation to build a new nursing facility was announced June 30, 2011.
Despite the change in costs, "the one thing that has remained constant is the outstanding level of compassionate care provided to our residents," he said.
The new 10-acre campus will have an 82,000 square-foot facility along with a pond and gazebo "and hopefully surrounded by rain permitting a landscaped walking path."