Cornerstone laid

The cornerstone for the Hospital's main building was laid on July 20, 1893. The building was ready for patients by December of that year. Copies of this photograph were sold by photographer C. S. Bradford for 50¢ for the benefit of the Hospital.

From the day the Hospital opened with five patient beds in March 1893 plans were under way for expansion. In 1895-96 two wings were added to house men's and women's wards, bringing the Hospital's capacity to 44 ward patients. A Children's Ward and Maternity Ward were opened in 1908.

Hospital in 1895

The Hospital in 1895 after the main building was completed.

Drs. Robert Hughes and Oscar Klevan

Drs. Robert Hughes and Oscar Klevan with patients on the porch of the Children's Ward.

The Hospital in 1899 showing the east and west wings which housed the women's and men's wards respectively.

Hospital in 1899
Visiting Day

Visiting Day at the Hospital.

East side of the Hospital

The Children's Ward (front) and Maternity Ward (rear) were added to the east side of the Hospital in 1907.

Children's Ward

Nurse Ruth Gee (Class of 1924) (seated) and staff attend to patients in the Children's Ward.

Operating Room in Maternity Ward.

The Operating Room in the Maternity Ward.

Hospital kitchen

Mary Davis, Dietician (seated) and Nurse Ray Novell (far right) prepare patient trays in the Hospital kitchen.

Contagious Ward

The Contagious Ward was erected in 1904 to provide separate quarters for patients with infectious diseases. The stairway on the left was added to provide a separate entrance to the second floor.

The Contagious Ward was built in 1904. This self-contained two-story building would prove to be an important addition; during the first year, 110 cases of typhoid were treated. Patients with diphtheria, measles and tetanus were quarantined there, and at times, all patients of the Children's Ward were transferred there if disease developed in their ward.

The years 1918 and 1919 saw perhaps the greatest use of the Contagious Ward. In July 1918, an outbreak of scarlet fever brought 92 patients to the Hospital, the Annual Report noting "admissions came rapidly, the wards and private rooms alike were crowded." The nationwide influenza epidemic of 1918 reached Chester County that fall and the Hospital admitted 240 patients, including 30 Marines from Camp Fuller, Paoli. Scarlet fever was rampant in the spring of 1919, and again the Contagious Ward was busy for many weeks.

The Hospital's equipment and technology kept pace with the physical growth. A bacteriological laboratory was established in 1897 by Dr. Thomas Dunn. In 1905, an X-ray department opened, treating 48 patients the first year. A portable X-ray machine was added in 1922.

Nursing supervisors, circa 1922.

Nursing supervisors, circa 1922.

Surgical facilities advanced dramatically. Whereas Benjamin Bush's 1893 surgery took place in a kitchen that happened to house surgical equipment, 11 years later the Hospital boasted a main operating room, an "etherizing" room and recovery rooms. A nitrous oxide gas machine was added to the operating room in 1916 and 1922 brought new instruments which enabled surgeons to monitor a patient's blood pressure during surgery.

Surgery circa 1922

Surgery circa 1922 (left to right) Drs. W. W. Woodward, V. Lockwood and Edward Kerr assisted by Nurses Stinson, McGrogan, Nicholi (rear) and Fulton.

Women's Ward, circa 1923.

The Women's Ward, circa 1923.

The medical staff serving the Hospital during its early years was part of this tremendous growth. Specialists evolved as Hospital services evolved. Consulting physicians also were part of the staff. By 1913, three residents rotated duty in the areas of medicine, surgery and obstetrics. In 1922, dentists were added to the staff.

Despite all the advances in its physical plant, by 1914 the Hospital was in need of larger and more modern facilities. This was a major concern of the Board of Managers and medical staff in the late 1910s and early 1920s.

The Hospital's first Director, James House, was hired in 1923.

We are grateful to the Chester County Historical Society and the many individuals who loaned or donated photographs to the Hospital Archives.

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The Chester County Hospital