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The Beginnings of Medicine in the Community

As early as 1884 J. Dorsey Sponogle, MD had a practice as surgeon & physician in the Willcox area. Since that time, various doctors have provided medical services to the residents of Willcox and surrounding areas. Prior to the opening of Northern Cochise Community Hospital (NCCH), the Municipal Hospital was located on Maley Street. It had been built in about 1952, with 12 patient beds. Prior to that time, Dr. Robert Hicks operated the Valley Hospital Infirmary on Railroad Avenue.

Our Beginnings

NCCH was created to provide updated and more modern hospital services and facilities, as the facilities at the Municipal Hospital were outdated and it was becoming increasingly difficult to provide needed care for patients.

Opening day occurred on February 16, 1968. A small rain shower helped to 'liven' things up, as the roof leaked and buckets were placed in strategic locations, both in the operating room and the delivery room, to prevent further difficulties. Tom Jackson, the hospital's first administrator recalled that the first day was memorable; he operated as the hospital administrator, x-ray technician, lab technician, PR person, and office manager.

The hospital opened with 25 beds and was one of only 23 in the state of Arizona, not including hospitals owned by the mines, and served as a model for Arizona Community Hospitals. NCCH also carries the distinction of being the first hospital in AZ to recognize both MD's and DO's, with these doctors working side by side in the hospital setting.

The First Years

The first year brought with it significant growth and progress. In the first year alone, we had 707 admissions, including 83 births (4 sets of twins). There were 31 full-time, and 7 part-time employees, with 8676 hours of volunteer service that first year. The Nutritional staff provided on average about 100 meals per day.

Growth and progress continued, leading to an expansion of the hospital in the first few years of operation. The nursing home was opened in 1972, four years after the hospital opened its doors. With the opening of Northern Cochise Nursing Home, additional staff was added to meet the growing needs of the hospital and community.

The Intervening Years

Much growth has occurred at the hospital. What started out as a hospital of 38 employees has grown to one with about 175 today. Hospital services have expanded to meet the growing needs of the community around us, including rural health clinics, specialty clinics, endoscopy, inpatient rehabilitation, and many outpatient services. NCCH strives for excellence in all that we do. We believe, as we did 50 years ago that, "patients have the right to efficient, effective care, courtesy and consideration, and a comfortable and safe environment."

NCCH is rich in history and culture, contributing significantly to the progress and direction of medicine in Arizona. More than ever we are committed to continuing the great tradition of providing quality healthcare close to home!


Klump, Kathy, and Tenney, Peta-Anne. Images of America: Willcox. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2009.
AZ Range News March 6, 1969.
AZ Range News, February 2, 1972