The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

October 24, 2010

Longtime hospital chief works to save a ‘piece of history’

ENID — Integris Bass Baptist Health Center in Enid stems from a long history of Baptist hospitals in Oklahoma.

Former Bass administrator W. Eugene Bax-ter, Dr. P.H., is a man familiar with the Baptist hospital system and has written a history, “The Rural Hospital Ministry of Oklahoma Baptists,” on the subject.

“(Baptist hospitals) really were a mission of the state Baptist convention,” said Baxter, who still lives in Enid. “Initially, the administrators were retired Baptist ministers.”

Baxter originally became interested in the Baptist hospital system because he wanted to pursue a church-related vocation, he said. In 1960, he became an assistant administrator for Enid General Hospital, known as Integris Bass Baptist Health Center today. After holding several hospital administrator positions in other communities, Baxter became head of Enid General Hospital in 1970.

Baxter’s history on Baptist hospitals followed his retirement from Bass in Enid in 1996.

“Since I was with the Baptist hospital for a long time, I was acquainted with many administrators and hospitals as they were developed,” said Baxter. “I don’t think there was anyone else really remaining with the (Baptist hospital) system who was as familiar with the system as I was. It was a piece of history we were going to lose unless I did it.”

Baxter began compiling information to include in his history.

“It took me about two years, at least, to get it rounded up,” said Baxter. “There were two or three texts available from the state Baptist convention that talked about Baptist hospitals. Much of it, I gathered from memory.”

According to Baxter’s work, the Oklahoma’s Baptist hospital history began in 1909 with Oklahoma Baptist Hospital in Muskogee. Short-lived Baptist hospitals in Enid included Enid Springs Sanitorium, now St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, which was contracted and terminated in 1925, and Enid Baptist Hospital, contracted in 1930 and terminated in 1939.

Enid General Hospital became a Baptist hospital in 1953 and became an Integris hospital in 1994.

“I felt like I was very fortunate to be around during the period of the development of the Baptist hospital system and then the transition to the newer Integris system,” said Baxter. “During that period of time there were many changes that occurred in the variety of services offered.”

From the time Baxter began working in the hospital system to the time he retired, advances in medicine and technology were astounding.

“It would be like the difference between night and day,” said Baxter. “In 1960 we were providing excellent care, but with much less sophistication than is available to-day.”

Some of the major changes Bass has undergone in the last 50 years include extensive building expansion and remodeling, as well as ad-vances in treatments and surgery such as radiation therapy and open-heart surgery.

“Who would have thought in 1960 that we’d have that going on, particularly in Enid?” Bax-ter said.

Even though he is retired, Baxter still looks at Bass with a sense of pride.

“I think it’s really fantastic, the things that have occurred these last few years,” he said.

Development and advances continue to occur at Bass under principles Baxter said are key. Those principals are providing service to the community; providing the best, highest quality service possible; and equality of patient care. To fulfill this mission, he said, Bass strives to have contented employees and attract the best physicians to Enid.

“Being able to provide services to the community is most important,” said Baxter. “The best services you could possibly provide.”

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