Monday, June 6, 2016

History of Lawrence County Memorial Hospital Part 1

History of Lawrence County Memorial Hospital

The importance and availability of a suitable community Hospital was recognized as a necessity after several catastrophes had occurred in Lawrence County during the 1920s and 1930s. Following the depression of the late 1920s the talk of the establishment of a 27 bed hospital in Lawrence County reached a stage of a special meeting.   Meetings were also held in 1935 with plans developed but found unsatisfactory and discarded. It was not until 1945 that a suitable plan to provide a community Hospital was developed. Publicity was inaugurated on a countywide basis and mass meetings were held in each Township. Within five weeks a committee carried the story of the project to the Board of Supervisors on April 7, 1945 seeking a bond issue for $275,000 for the hospital. The bond issue passed with 2454 for the issue and 505 against. The site committee presented the Dee Miller and Otto Barnes property at the West side of Lawrenceville as a choice for the building. The Board of Supervisors voted on this site and approved the location because it was close to the bulk of the population. The abstract was prepared and the deed issued on October 11, 1945.

The committee made a trip to Springfield discovering the cost for the construction had risen.  It was suggested that a 35 bed hospital be built rather than a 50 bed hospital to save expenses. Lester Routt of Vincennes received the contract for the architectural and engineering work on the hospital with Snyder Construction Company of Vincennes being awarded the building contract. On March 24, 1949, Snyder Construction began the actual structure that was to be Lawrence County Memorial hospital.

The hospital was dedicated on July 2, 1950 and received its first patient three days later on July 5. The first administrator was Mrs. Nelly Lowe who was hired October 18, 1949. The approximate cost of the hospital was 941, 503. 17. The first room rates were established June 27, 1950:
4- bed Ward – – –$7.00per day; Semi private – – – $8.50 per day; Private room--- $10.50 per day; deluxe private room – – – $12.50 per day

The hospital as originally opened, had facilities for 45 patients and it was not long before it  became necessary to make room for more patients. In 1955 the second-floor solarium was discontinued and four more beds were added. Again in 1956, three medical beds were added as space was taken from the nursery on the obstetrical floor. In June 1958 the local health department moved to the courthouse making room for 13 more beds, on the first floor. East wing was officially opened for patients on September 29, 1958.
The hospital was originally staffed with 61 full and part-time employees. During the next 15 years they expanded the laboratory and x-ray facilities because of the increased demand for more scientific tests. In addition an examining room, genito–urinary facilities and expansion of physical therapy were made available. The Endowment and Development Foundation was established in August 1961. This foundation made it possible for the hospital to replace old equipment through public interest funds. The hospital also interested many local high school students in health career  fields by participating  in the Diversified Occupations programs in the local schools. Lawrence County was the recipient of the first shipment of blood through the Red Cross Regional Blood Ctr., St. Louis, MO within nine months after it opened.


In April 1954, 32 women in Lawrence County were trained as Grey ladies. April 25, 1956 was a proud day for Lawrence County Memorial hospital and citizens, as well, for the hospital was given full accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals.