October 2023

More than 100 physicians who served at the Fitzsimons Army Medical Center reunited on the Anschutz Medical Campus in July in the first gathering since the army medical center was shut down on the 1995 recommendation of the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

Originally known as U.S. Army General Hospital No. 21, it established a national reputation of excellence in patient care, training, and research over its 78-year history. The hospital originally opened in 1917. The rebuilt Fitzsimons General Hospital, which is now known as the Fitzsimons Building and home to many administrative offices for our campus, opened in 1941, just days before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

As Nicholas DiBella, MD, walked through the bright halls of UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, memories came flooding back.

“I’m probably one of the oldest people at this reunion,” said DiBella, who would soon reunite with colleagues he hadn’t seen for decades. “I was here in the Vietnam era, and I can remember we had all of these outlying buildings that had been built after World War II. All of these wooden temporary buildings, and we had them full of patients – all of these poor guys and gals coming back from ’Nam. There were patients spread all over the campus.

“So, it’s wonderful to see that (the campus) is still being used for health care,” added DiBella, who served as chief of hematology-oncology during a second stint up until his retirement in 1984. “I’m proud of that.”

Among the attendees were many School of Medicine faculty members, including Col. (Ret.) Sterling West, MD, professor emeritus of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, who made a presentation on the history of the center. Other School of Medicine faculty who attended the reunion were: Mike McDermott, MD, Steve Johnson, MD, Steve Freeman, MD, Bill Burman, MD, Rose Gates, NP, PhD, and Steve Lawrence, MD.

Reunion of doctors

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