The Brookville Hospital; Serving the Community for Eight Decades
By Ratna Ganabathi
On the evening of Oct. 5, 1914, a public meeting was held in the Jefferson County Courthouse for the citizens of Brookville to consider the establishment of a hospital in town. On March 5, 1915, a committee met and received a report that Nancy Neal had died on March 3rd and by her will a portion of her estate was bequeathed for a hospital in Brookville. If the hospital plan would be still underway within the next years after her death, $9,000 would be given to the organization. Another $16,000 would be available on the death of death of Mrs. Neal's son. A total of $25,000.
On March 12, 1915, a nonprofit corporation known as the Brookville Hospital was incorporated by Judge John W. Reed. Almost one year and five months later, on August 29, 1916, W. J. Kuntz offered to donate four acres of land on South Main St. for a hospital site. In June 1917, a campaign to raise $50,000 for the construction of the hospital was begun.
A total of $46,874.60 was pledged. On July 11, 1917, the Humphrey Brick and Tile Company offered to furnish hollow tile for the walls, partitions and floors of the new building all for no fee at all. The Emmett R. Bailey Company of Oil City was employed as the architect for the new building. On Sept. 8, the trustees purchased the James Dickey property adjoining the hospital for a nurse's home. On April 8, 1918, the plans were approved by the state.
Because of World War I, materials and labor were scarce and expensive so another public meeting was held to determine if the project should move ahead or wait. The decision was to go ahead.
A contract for construction of the hospital for $50,000 was let to John H. Carr on June 29, 1918. The price did not include the material donated by Humphrey Brick and Tile Company, estimated at $5,000.
On Sept. 24, 1919, the trustees authorized the remodeling of the Dickey home for a nurse's home. The cash on hand was very low. On that same day Gladstone Carmalt agreed to manage a campaign to raise $50,000 to finish and equip the hospital. The campaign was held in October and raised $20,000.
During Oct. and Nov., 1919, various women's organizations and Sunday School classes were busy collecting funds for linens, blankets, dishes, and household equipment. On Nov. 27, 1919, S.S. Henderson contributed $2,000 to buy an x-ray machine.
The new hospital had 28 beds. When the new facility opened, Dr. Wayne Snyder closed his clinic and discharged his patients. The new hospital reported a gain in operations in 1923 of $745 for the year.
A nurse's training school was established in 1920 but was forced to close in 1926 on account of poor living conditions. The following month another campaign drive was held and collected $69,196 and architect Emmett Bailey of Oil City was directed to prepare plans for a new nurse's home. The building was completed in Feb., 1928 at a cost of $44,498. Two years later an appraisal of the building valued it at $150,000. The school began operations in 1932 but was not accredited.
In 1926, the bylaws were changed to expand the board from 9 to 12 members to be elected for staggered terms of office.
In Oct., 1941 another drive was launched with an eye to adding a wing to the hospital. Those plans were interrupted by World War II and the $15,000 collected placed in government bonds. It was not until 1947 work on the new wing began. The excavation and foundation of the new wing cost $21,183.42. and the structural steel. $19,509.60. Escalations in the cost drove the price of the new wing up to $277,000 leading to another fund drive in 1949.
The work was completed just in time for the baby boom. On March 28, 1949, between the hours of 1:10 A.M. and 11:30 P.M., eight babies were born along with 17 admissions. Both were records for the Brookville Hospital.
The Hospital continued to grow. Through community donations, improvements were made to the facility: A $5,000 bequest from trustee A. E. Denio; a bequest of $8,230.83 from Robert Aiken; $5,000 from the Pittsburgh Shawmut Railroad from landscaping and another $3,000 for blacktopping; new x-ray equipment valued at $15,000 was purchased in 1956.
The Campbell Wing was added in 1959 to serve as a convalescence center. Vernon Taylor made a donation of $60,000 to the project and he followed that with an additional $20,000 to complete the work. The first patients were admitted in May 1956.
By 1970, the cost of hospital operations was $1,550,684.
There were losses too. Miss Pearl Cooper, a long time administrator of nurses died in 1957 after 16 years of service and on Nov. 27, 1963, Fred Cooley, the last of the original board members died.
The growth has continued with the addition of a hospital tower making 73 total available beds.
The latest renovation was completed only this year (1997) with the movement of the Intensive Care Unit to the patient wing.
Presently the hospital has 22 physicians and has finalized plans to add four more primary care physicians.
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