Dean’s Message

October 28, 2022

We celebrate the 50th anniversary of the College of Community Health Sciences this year. As part of our celebration, we recognize the vital role that University Medical Center has played in the College’s growth and success.

Together, CCHS and UMC have educated and placed family medicine physicians into practice throughout Alabama, with a focus on the state’s smaller and rural communities, where doctors are most needed.

The College was founded at The University of Alabama in 1972 to educate and train a new type of doctor, a family medicine physician who would provide continuity of care, as well as comprehensive and preventive care. This contrasted with most medical education programs at the time, which focused on educating and training future physicians to provide episodic care.

Almost immediately, CCHS set to work creating a medical practice that would become the foundation of a clinical teaching program for the College’s medical students and family medicine residents. The practice opened its doors in 1975 as the Family Practice Center in a 30,000-square-foot facility on University Boulevard across from DCH Regional Medical Center. By 1981, annual patient visits totaled 26,000.

In 1982, the Family Practice Center was renamed Capstone Medical Center and work began to expand the facility to accommodate a growing patient population. More than 7,000 square feet of clinical space was added by 1985, providing new exam rooms, an ob-gyn suite, a minor surgery/procedures room and a new waiting room. By 1993, the number of annual patient visits totaled 70,000.

Steps were taken in 2002 to modernize Capstone Medical Center with the introduction of an electronic medical record. That same year, construction began on a new building for CCHS to provide an optimal environment for teaching, patient care and research. The 100,000-square-foot building at its current location on the corner of University Boulevard and Peter Bryce Boulevard opened in 2005, and the medical practice was renamed University Medical Center. Today, the building houses University Medical Center, many of the College’s academic divisions and the UA Student Health Center and Pharmacy, which CCHS also operates.

In recent years, CCHS and UMC launched a concentrated effort to increase access to health care in West Alabama’s smaller and rural communities. UMC-Northport opened in 2015 to provide family medicine, obstetrics, prenatal care and pediatric services to that community. UMC-Demopolis opened in 2017 when the city lost its only provider of prenatal and obstetrics care.

Efforts continued with the opening of UMC-Fayette and UMC-Carrollton in 2021 and UMC-Livingston earlier this year. In November, we will relocate UMC-Northport into a brand new, modern and much larger building, where we will also provide more specialized care.

From its modest beginnings in a small clinic on University Boulevard to six locations throughout West Alabama, UMC is currently the largest community medical practice in the region. Last year, total patient visits in all of our ambulatory settings exceeded 100,000.

While it’s been a busy and productive five decades, throughout all of those years we have kept true to our UMC mission of caring for West Alabama.

The College of Community Health Sciences operates University Medical Center, the UA Student Health Center and Pharmacy, Brewer-Porch Children’s Center and Capstone Hospitalist Group.