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Page 15 text:
About this time the State Flood Commission found that they still had on
their hands about SlU0,0UU of relief money. The amount was too small for
general distribution, and the commission felt that if the money could be put
to some general use, for the good of the people as a whole, greater benefit
would result. The Medical Association immediately appealed for aid in erecting
a permanent hospital for the reception and care of the afflicted. It was ap-
paling to know that when the sick and injured were gathered from among
the survivors there was no safe and adequate building in which they could
be sheltered and cared for.
The course once suggested, there was no question raised as to its'
wisdom. There was appropriated sixty-five thousand dollars for the purpose
of the erecting of such an institution.
After necessary details had been worked out, ground was broken for
the new building on the 26th of February, l89l. The committee in charge
was fortunate in securing the services of Mr. George Orth, an architect of
experience and ability, who left evidence of his skill in every section of the
building. The building was completed on Ianuary 21, 1892. With transfer of
the hospital to the local authorities the people of the valley assumed the
management and maintenance of the institution. The hospital was named,
"The Conemaugh Valley Memorial Hospital", a memorial from the people of
the world to the people of the Valley of Iohnstown. It is a memorial to the
victims of the l889 flood and the great Christian spirit that prevailed from far
and wide to aid fellow suffers in their hour of need.
The hospital doors were opened to the sick and injured of whatever race,
creed or position. The field of services extended over wide areas of all sur-
rounding counties. The first staff of Memorial was: Medical-Dr. F. Schill, Dr.
W. E. Matthews, Dr. H. F. Tomb, Dr. L. H. Mayer, Surgical-Dr. W. B. Lowman,
Dr. A. Wakefield, Dr. I. C. Sheridan, and Dr. C. E. Hannan. The same year a
Nurses Training School was established. Miss Louisa P. Sims, was appointed
superintendent. Her duties began with matters relating to the care and comfort
of the patient, to management of all departments from the operating room to
the boiler room. All business of the Hospital in any department passed thru
her office. Executive duties kept her so busy, the position of matron was
opened. An efficient lady, Mrs. Laura Young, Vv as made happy in her work of
caring for matters relating to housekeeping. The training course for nurses
occupied two years and was under the control of the Training School Com-
mittee, who had the privilege of deciding the fitness of the candidates for
The nurses wore plain uniforms, and were ranked as assistant nurses
their first year. The second year they were to perform any duty assigned to
them by the chief nurse, even to head nurse position. How our curriculum
has changed. Their training was mostly practical, with few lectures by the
physicians. They gained most of their knowledge at the bedside from the
local physicians, on their professional visits. At the end of two years the
nurses were given a paper signed by the Training School and Hospital
Authorities enabling them to choose their own field of nursing. Steady progress
was made in the Training School. The graduating class usually ranged from
5 to l5 students. In 1905 the cirruculum was advanced and the training periods
extended to three years. In l906 there were additions to the hospital, because
Page 14 text:
Mr. Herbert G. Fritz, Fellow ot The American College of Hospital Administration
Sitting in my room, as often, staring at the institution of which I was a
part, cmd wondering of its exciting history, a cloud came over my eyes and
a voice from nowhere began to tell me of an exciting, vivid story.
The time was May 31, l889g and the scene one of disaster, gloom, and
destruction. There was a cry of anguish, pallecl tearstained faces. A city in
the valley of the Alleghanies had been visited by the drama of death and
destruction, the great "Iohnstown Flood". Upon some faces there was written
bereavement and deprivation. Other survivors tryingly characterized patience,
fortitude and cheerful submission. Illness and accident was everywhere. Out
of the gloom came Dr. Pancoast and a chapter of the American Red Cross.
still in its youth. They immediately began the work of house-to-house visitation
and ministration to the sick and injured. As soon as possible they obtained
a few tents and erected them in the orchard of Iudge Harnilton's place on
Kernville Hill. The first patient was a 14 year old child with diphtheria, a
disease prevalent at this time. Other patients were admitted rapidly and
enlargement of facilities was deemed necessary. The tents were succeeded
by an L-shaped one story wooden building. This was occupied from Iune to
Ianuary 21 when the Red Cross withdrew and the institution was taken over
by the Cambria Co. Medical Association.
Page 16 text:
of its limited capacity of 60. These additions brought the capacity to 140.
With its limited capacity failing to keep pace with the rapid growth of the
community, the hospital organization had, nevertheless, set up a wonderful
record in public service. A main thought at this time was the need for a much
larger institution. In l9l6 a great campaign for a building fund resulted in
the subscription of nearly S140,00U.UU. Plans were in readiness for erection of
a new hospital, due to the extended efforts of the people of the valley when
there was heard a cry of "War!!" on everyones lips. The World War. The
United States called to duty some of our best physicians. But we knew hospitals
in every state were placed in the same position. The increased cost of con-
struction and the difficulty in securing material delayed building operations.
The second campaign for public funds began in 1923. In 1925 the structure
was begun. It was decided that in order to accomodate the increase in the
personnell, which a larger hospital deemed necessary, a new nurses home
was needed, and accordingly, the present nurses home was constructed to
take care of this need. The growth of the hospital with its newest equipment
was a challenge to disease. There was the New Orthopedic and Psychiatric
department. The Physio and Hydro therapy sections were enlarged and new
equipment installed. There was a new Diagnostic Department, Obstetrics and
Special Eye Department. These departments stood with trained personnell
ready to serve all. Time slipped by, the hospital progressed with the years.
In 1932, the hospital put into effect group hospitalization. The organization
Was given credit for leading this very progressive and vital movement.
Nineteen hundred and thirty-six there came great clouds, and rain again
visited the valley, filling the rivers and streams to overflowing, causing a
second Iohnstown Flood. This time they were ready. The hospital doors were
open to all. Emergency radio systems were set up to the emergency lighting
system, as electrical power to the city was cut. All available space was used
for the construction of emergency wards.
Thanks to the graduate nurses who volunteered their services. In the
Flood of 1936 the hospital stood as a beacon to aid those in the dark. How
proud everyone was they could help and show they were prepared for any
In 1936 the hospital won national recognition by being given the National
Hospital Day Award. Yearly the doors are open to public inspection on May
12th. They were also admitted to membership in the Hospital Service Associa-
tion of Pennsylvania, early in l939.
The cirruculum and standards of the Nurses Training School were con-
stantly being elevated. They now have a Class A rating and the graduates
are much in demand.
The dream became more vivid. I could see a parade of many faces. To the
crowd of workers who had given their all to elevating the hospital, I humbly
paid my respects as a representative of the Class of '4l. Some faces appeared
more clearly than others, because they belonged to the new and later years.
In 1935 Mrs. Leota Swank became the Director and Superintendent of Nurses.
Miss Iosephine Cope in 1939 serenly took her post as practical nursing 'in-
structor, and 1940 gave a new science and theory instructor, Miss Iohanna
Krauss. There were many others but these three were destined to lead the
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