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History of Craig Hospital

Timeline Highlights

1907 - Frank Craig starts the "Tent Colony of Brotherly Love" on the plains in Lakewood west of Denver for indigent men with tuberculosis.

1910 - Craig Colony was incorporated by Mrs. Jane Cooper (widow of former Colorado governor J.A. Cooper) who bought and donated the property to the Colony.

1916 - The first of three buildings is constructed. By 1921, there were 48 cottages; by 1923, there were two additional buildings on West Colfax St.

1919 - The name of the Tent Colony was changed to "Craig Colony" in memory of Frank Craig, who died of tuberculosis in 1914 at the age of 37.

1955 - As tuberculosis declined with antibiotic treatments, Craig shifted its emphasis to multiple diagnoses, such as multiple sclerosis, polio, muscular dystrophy, and spinal cord injury.

1957 - Dr. John Young arrives at Craig as Medical Director and intensifies Craig's exclusive focus on spinal cord injury and brain injury rehabilitation. Dr. Young is regarded as the visionary founder of the modern Craig.

1958 - Craig is renamed "Craig Rehabilitation Center" and constructs a major addition to the hospital for rehabilitation.

1959 - After serving Native Americans for years, Craig signs a contract with the U.S. Public Health Service Bureau of Indian Affairs, to serve Native Americans with spinal cord injury. Craig also establishes a clinic in Gallup, NM for long-term follow-up care for patients in Arizona and New Mexico.

1966 - Craig is renamed "Craig Rehabilitation Hospital."

1968 - Dr. John Young moves to Phoenix and Dr. Robert R. Jackson becomes medical director. Dr. Jackson is credited with Craig's rejuvenated financial health through his advocacy with national insurance carriers of the value of quality specialized rehabilitation.

1969 - Gov. John Love proclaims March 9-15 "Craig Rehabilitation Hospital Week in Colorado" in recognition of "the hospital's many contributions to state, regional, and national health care for the severely disabled."

1970 - Craig moves from Lakewood to Englewood and builds an 80-bed rehabilitation hospital on the grounds of Swedish Hospital, connected to Swedish by a tunnel to access radiology, laboratory, surgery, and other ancillary services.

1970 - Craig begins an in-house neurosurgical program under the direction of Dr. Robert Edgar.

1973 - Craig modifies apartments across the street for transitional living experiences for patients and families of inpatients.

1973 - Craig becomes a federally-designated SCI Model Systems Center and begins enrolling patients in 1974.

1974 - Denny O'Malley becomes president of Craig.

1975 - Designed by Dr. Harry R. Hahn, Craig opens the shared Neurotrauma Unit at Swedish Hospital, one of the first models of its kind. The unit features both intensive medical care and early rehabilitation therapy, with a Craig physician, Swedish nurses, and Craig therapists.

1975 - Craig is renamed "Craig Hospital" by the Board to reflect the medical and rehabilitation services provided.

1975 - Craig therapeutic recreation staff play a major role in international wheelchair athletics, as fourteen Craig athletes compete in National Wheelchair Athletic Association Games.

1977 - The Traumatic Brain Injury Team is created distinct from the Spinal Cord Injury teams under the direction of Dr. Hahn, and soon after is intensely developed by Dr. Mark Cilo.

1978 - Craig and Dr. Peter Peterson intensify treatment and study of ventilator-dependent patients and high quadriplegia, leading to a national seminar in 1980 and the publication of The Management of High Quadriplegia in 1989.

1980 - With administrative support, Craig Hospital staff were instrumental in the creation and early development of the Colorado Head Injury Foundation, later the Brain Injury Association of Colorado, which was responsible for the first statewide TBI Report to the governor in 1987.

1983 - Craig establishes regular SCI Outreach Clinics with physicians and clinicians in Casper, WY and Grand Junction, CO, expanding in 1987 to Pueblo, CO as well.

1984 - Dr. Daniel P. Lammertse becomes Craig's new medical director and serves in that capacity until 2008.

1985 - Craig establishes an in-house neuroscience laboratory, in addition to an EMG lab, a neuromuscular lab, and a neurosurgery lab; also begins ERGYS bicycle clinical trials for FDA approval.

1987 - Craig physicians and staff are widely sought for presentations and publications and average 75 professional presentations per year, while also publishing 20-25 articles and book chapters per year.

1989 - U.S. News and World Report begins ranking hospitals, and places Craig among its Top Ten Rehabilitation Hospitals in the U.S.

1991 - Craig serves as a clinical trial site for Parastep/FES ambulation.

1990 - Craig staff and Dr. Robert Menter intensify the study and treatment of aging and spinal cord injury, publishing a leading text Aging with a Spinal Cord Injury in 1993.

1996 - Craig completes a new transitional building on the east side of Clarkson St. with innovative patient/family rooms, an adjoining skybridge, multiple treatment areas, and research and business space, while increasing the number of total hospital beds to 93.

1996 - Dr. Scott Falci conducts the world's first embryonic spinal cord transplantation for the treatment of syringomyelia in Stockholm, Sweden, as described in the Journal of Neurotrauma in 1997.

1998 - Craig becomes a federally-designated TBI Model Systems Center by NIDRR.

2002 - To replace its aging apartments, Craig constructs and opens a new 47-unit onsite Outpatient and Family Housing Facility for reevaluation patients and families of inpatients.

2003 - Craig builds an in-house Cell Center with a Class 10,000 cleanroom and becomes the first site in the U.S. for Proneuron's Phase II Activated Macrophage Clinical Trial.

2004 - Denny O'Malley celebrates his 30th year as president of Craig. Dr. Daniel Lammertse celebrates his 20th year as Medical Director. The Multitrauma Unit at Swedish is 30 years old.

2005 - The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) awards its prestigious Magnet Status Designation to Craig.

2005 - Craig is a finalist for the El Pomar Foundation's Joel A.H. Webb Award for Excellence in Health Care (Large Facility).

2006 - Craig is designated the TBI National Statistical Data Center and re-awarded TBI Model Systems Center and SCI Model Systems Center designation by NIDRR for 2006-2011.

2007 - Craig celebrates the 100-year anniversary of our founding by Frank Craig in 1907.

2007 - ColoradoBiz magazine selects Craig Hospital as a finalist for its Top Company Awards in the Health Care category.

2008 - Craig Hospital opens the new Mike Utley Terrain Park for mobility training. Craig's website is overhauled. Craig collaborates with the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs. Denny O'Malley retires after 34 years; Mike Fordyce is named the new president and CEO. Dr. Daniel Lammertse transitions from medical director to full-time work in SCI Research at Craig; Dr. Thomas E. Balazy is named the new medical director. Seven Craig graduates compete in the Beijing Olympics. Craig begins diaphragmatic pacing procedures.

2009 - Craig Hospital celebrates its 20th consecutive year of ranking in the Top Ten Rehabilitation Hospitals by US News & World Report. The 30th year of Hobie Day is celebrated. The Kappa Book & Author Evening marks its 20th year.

2010 - Equine, Child Care, and Graduate Liaison programs are launched at Craig. Craig receives prestigious Magnet Status for the second time by the ANCC (first time was in 2005). Dr. Gale Whiteneck, director of Craig's research department, receives the American Congress of Rehabilitative Medicine's (ACRM) highest merit honor, the Gold Key Award, while Cindy Dahlberg, director of quality, receives the ACRM's prestigious Fellow Award. Dr. Daniel Lammertse receives the Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals' highest award: the Donald Munro Lectureship at their annual meeting. The Dr. Mark P. Cilo Conference Room is dedicated.

2011 - Craig Hospital opens the PEAK (Performance, Exercise, Attitude and Knowledge) Center. The American Nurses Association (ANA) honors Craig as the top Rehabilitation Hospital in the U.S. for achieving outstanding nursing quality, based on their performance indicators. Craig is re-selected as a SCI Model Systems Center and the TBI National Statistical Data Center by NIDRR. Dr. Alan H. Weintraub is awarded the highest clinical honor by the North American Brain Injury Society (NABIS). Two videos produced by Craig's media department win 13 Telly Awards and two Gold Leaf awards. The Colorado legislature creates Craig Hospital license plates that will go on sale January 1, 2012, making Craig the first hospital in Colorado to have a special license plate. Craig receives the El Pomar Foundation's Julie and Spencer Penrose Award for the Outstanding Nonprofit in Colorado. Craig employees and physicians deliver 121 local, regional, and national presentations and publish 42 book chapters, journal articles, and professional papers.

2012 - Craig Hospital hosts the TBI Summit Conference in Beaver Creek, CO. Craig becomes the first rehabilitation hospital to use the Ekso Bionics exoskeleton commercially. Dr. Alan Weintraub delivers the keynote address at the North American Brain Injury Association Conference. Dr. Daniel Lammertse receives the Lifetime Achievement Award at the American Spinal Injury Association's annual conference and delivers the keynote address. Dr. Tom Balazy, Craig medical director, is named in 5280 magazine's "Top Docs." Cynthia Braden, MA, CCC-SLP is honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. The Denver Post recognizes Craig Hospital as the #3 workplace for Large Companies, accompanied by a special "Meaningfulness" award. Craig receives a Workplace Safety Award from the Colorado Division of Workers' Compensation. Craig also receives the ANCC Magnet Prize for its Nurse Advice Line. Throughout the year, Craig employees and physicians deliver 109 scientific presentations and publish 26 book chapters, journal articles, and professional papers.

2013 - Craig Hospital and Craig graduate Kevin Pearce were featured in the HBO documentary The Crash Reel, premiering at Sundance Film Festival and Denver's Sports Authority Field. The Denver Post recognizes Craig as the #2 workplace for Large Companies and also bestows a special "Training" award. Craig receives the #1 Rehabilitation Hospital Quality Award from the American Nurses Association (NDNQI). The Media Services Department at Craig receives two Web Health Awards in the category of medical education. Dr. Michael Makley and Dr. Jeff Berliner join the CNS Medical Group and Craig family. Dr. Tom Balazy, Craig medical director, and Dr. Alan Weintraub are named in 5280 magazine's "Top Docs" issue. Claire Cahow, CRTS receives ASCIP’s Distinguished Clinical Award. Dr. Cynthia Harrison-Felix is honored with the ACRM's prestigious Fellow Award. Craig hosts a "Topping Party" to celebrate the last piece of construction steel being placed on the new fourth floor and to honor Hammes Co., RTA Architects, and GE Johnson Construction.

2014 - Craig Hospital receives the NDNQI Top Hospital Quality Award in the Rehabilitation category. Thomas Carr, Craig's director of therapeutic recreation, coordinates all on-ice activities for the 28th annual National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass, CO. Dr. Alan Weintraub is elected to serve on the North American Brain Injury Society (NABIS) board. Dr. Tom Balazy is appointed to the Pinnacle Physicians Advisory Board. Three Craig physicians, Dr. Thomas Balazy, Dr. Mark Johansen, and Dr. Alan Weintraub are ranked in 5280 magazine's "Top Doctors" issue. Dr. Lester Butt receives the ASCIP James J. Peters Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Cynthia Harrison-Felix, principal investigator of the Rocky Mountain Regional Brain Injury Model Systems Center and the National Data and Statistical Center for the TBI Model Systems, receives a recognition award from the ACRM for her work in NIDRR-funded traumatic brain injury projects. Craig unveils the Indego exoskeleton as part of the launch of a multi-center study. Craig is the first of three leading rehabilitation centers within the U.S. to receive Indego—a powered lower-limb orthosis, also known as an exoskeleton. Craig is ranked by US News & World Report as a Top Ten Rehabilitation Hospital for the 25th consecutive year.

2015 - Craig Hospital hosts its second Brain Injury Summit in Vail, CO where more than 450 people from 39 states and ten countries came together. Craig is granted recognition as a Magnet-designated organization for the third consecutive time by the ANCC, becoming the first freestanding rehabilitation hospital and one of less than 100 Magnet hospitals in the world to achieve three consecutive Magnet designations. Craig receives the NDNQI Top Hospital Quality Award for the fifth time in the last six years. Craig's Skybridge is renamed to honor Dave and Gail Liniger, major Craig benefactors and graduates. Craig hosts Pedal 4 Possible, a charity bicycle ride to help fund innovative therapy programs that help Craig Hospital patients. Dr. Tom Balazy, Dr. Mark Johansen, and Dr. Alan Weintraub again are listed in 5280 magazine's "Top Docs" issue. On August 29, Gov. John Hickenlooper proclaimed "Redefining Possible Day" in Denver, CO to coincide with the grand opening of the "Redefining Possible" portrait series at the Wildlife Experience at CU South Denver.

2018 - After 10 years as Craig Hospital president and CEO, Mike Fordyce retires. He is succeeded by Dr. Jandel Allen-Davis, former vice president at Kaiser Permanente.

2019 - Craig is ranked by US News & World Report as a Top Ten Rehabilitation Hospital for the 30th consecutive year.

History of the "Broken Man"

During the 1960’s the "broken man" design was created by Brad Hodgkins, husband of Nancy Hodgkins, former Speech and Language Pathologist at Craig. The design symbolized the goal of rehabilitation at Craig - to help people with disabilities have meaningful lives following a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury.

When Craig moved to its present location in 1970, the symbol was permanently placed as a cornerstone in the wall near the front door of Craig’s West Building. For four decades the "broken man" has become an enduring symbol of hope. Patients, families, and staff have appreciated the meaning and beauty of the simple design. Unique mementos portraying the broken man can be found in Craig’s Gift Shop in the West Building.

In 2007, in celebration of Craig's 100th anniversary, Craig alumnus Herb Tabak wrote a fascinating, eighty-page history of our institution entitled Craig Hospital: A Century of Rebuilding Lives (1907-2007).

Download a PDF of Tabak's book

If you would like a hard copy of the original softbound book, send us an email.

A Century of Rebuilding Lives and author Herb Tabak won the Colorado Independent Publishers Association's 2008 Distinguished Book Award for Outstanding Special Book Publishing.