• Union County General Hospital
  • 300 Wilson Street
  • Clayton, New Mexico 88415
  • Phone: 575-374-7012
  • info@ucgh.net

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On September 30, 2009 the Union County General Hospital celebrated the inauguration of its 22,100-square-foot new extension. The building is both beautiful and state-of-the-art. Yet this summit of achievement reflects years of efforts—efforts which, in fact, began back in 1912—the year New Mexico became a state.

Shortly after graduating from Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine, Dr. James Winchester received bad news: he had tuberculosis and if he moved to a dry climate, he might live a year or two. (He did so and lived another 50!)

In 1912, when the doctor arrived at the small settlement of Clayton, New Mexico, there were no medical facilities. His practice began inside his home. A few years later, a lucky south Texas horserace brought in enough for him to build a 7-bed sanatorium with basic equipment and medications. St. Joseph’s Hospital was born. The next phase came in 1921 with the arrival of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, six Polish-born “pioneer nuns” presided by Mother Antonia. Dr. Winchester drove more staff and improvements—such as plumbing, heat, and cool storage. Yet the institution continued to struggle financially; often the only remuneration for services came in the form of vegetables, chickens, and eggs. But when the Superior Provincial became interested in the hospital, it was transformed into a 25-bed building with modern obstetrical, surgical, and medical facilities and a handsome Spanish-style stucco edifice.

Fast forward to the twenty first century…