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Hospital celebrates 25th year in Gwinnett

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Photo by Brian Giandelone

LAWRENCEVILLE -- After turning 25 in December, Gwinnett Medical Center officially celebrated the anniversary of its Lawrenceville campus Tuesday.

Attended by staff members and physicians who were there for the closing of Button Gwinnett Hospital and the opening of "The Glass Palace" on Dec. 29, 1984, the celebration was a time of reflection and story swapping.

Dr. Miles Mason, who joined Gwinnett's hospital system in 1979, remembers there being some animosity in the community before Gwinnettians warmed to the new facility.

"I think the amount of money ... was twice what the revenues were," he said. "It was a strain ... but we knew it was the right thing to do."

The hospital, according to records, was funded by Hospital Authority revenue anticipation certificates of $30,705,000.

In those days, Mason remembered, there was "nothing this side of Lawrenceville except the Presbyterian church."

Two quarter-century-old coffee cups displayed during the celebration bore a simple tree line on their exteriors. Until, that is, hot water is added. Then, illustrating the construction on the 50-acre plot, the tree line gives way to the hospital's facade, circa 1984, and the words, "A dream come true."

Thomas Shepherd, GMC's senior vice president of business development, was a medical technologist when the new facility opened. He fondly remembers moving from the one- and two-story buildings of the time -- Button Gwinnett, Joan Glancy and Buford General -- into the eight-story "Big House."

"The thing that sticks in my mind is, in Button Gwinnett we were in this closet," he said. "We moved into the laboratory here and thought we were in hog heaven. We moved in floor by floor as the patients came and employees expanded."

The marketing department was to credit for creating shadow box time lines that served as a visual reminder of the hospital's history. Newspaper clippings, photographs and key facts and dates chronicled GMC's expansion over the years.

From the first hospital computer system installed in 1988 to the 2009 opening of the new North Tower and upcoming open-heart program, GMC has been the embodiment of its slogan, "transforming health care."