Dr. J. M. Waggoner (left), with Directress of Nurses Frances Gooden and Dr. Joseph Scattergood, Sr. Dr. Waggoner was commissioned in the U.S. Army Medical Corps in 1942, and in 1945 assumed command of a 1,400 bed army medical facility in Louisiana. After his return, he directed the Hospital's Rheumatic Heart Disease Clinic which opened in 1947.


When the United States entered World War II every individual and every institution was affected. The greatest impact on the Hospital occurred when many dedicated physicians, nurses (including several nursing supervisors), and other employees took leave to serve in the Armed Forces. Those who remained also served by assuming expanded duty time and responsibility to enable the Hospital to provide its same level of care during the national crisis.

Dr. Francis Jacobs

Dr. Francis Jacobs interrupted his medical training to serve in the Army during the War. He returned to West Chester to establish a pediatric practice in 1947 and later served as both Chief of Staff and Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics. His father, Dr. Francis B. Jacobs, was chief pediatrician at the Hospital for many years.

Dr. William A. Limberger

Dr. William A. Limberger, a Hospital physician and Chief of Medical Defense in Chester County, served in Europe and North Africa during the War. In his career he also was Chief of Staff and Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Hospital.

The School of Nursing participated in the U.S. Cadet Corps program which accelerated the training and allowed students to complete it at government expense in exchange for service in the military. In all, more than 50 graduates of the School of Nursing served in the Armed Forces during World War II.

Many physicians and nurses completed their military duty and returned to the Hospital in 1946. At the end of the war, the Hospital offered free counseling and medical screening to returning veterans.

Frieda McMillan

Frieda McMillan, School of Nursing Class of 1934, was Operating Room Supervisor when she joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1943. After serving with a mobile surgical unit in Europe, she returned to her position at the Hospital in 1946.

US Cadet Nurse Corps
CCH News
Dr. George W. Truitt

Dr. George W. Truitt visiting a patient in Chadds Ford. He joined the Hospital in 1938 and served at military hospitals in the United States during World War II. After his return he became Director of the Hospital's Allergy Clinic.

Fighting Disease with New Technology

The 1940s brought many changes in the practice of medicine. Diagnostic and therapeutic practices made possible by new information and technology were advancing at a rapid pace. Experience in treating the sick and wounded of World War II also contributed to improved treatment and care of Hospital patients.


A stretcher eased patients into and out of the tank.

Areas of specialty within the medical field increased as more was learned about diseases of the human body and methods of prevention and treatment. By 1950, the Hospital's out-patient clinics offered patients treatments in such areas as Orthopedics, Allergy, Dentistry, Diabetes, Cardiology, Rheumatic Heart Disease, Dermatology, Medicine, Surgery and Otolaryngology.

Polio patients

Polio patients often spent months in the Hospital recovering from the disease, and enjoyed visiting with one another.


Hospital Ambulance. A physician often rode in the ambulance to treat accident victims or other patients.

Hubbard tank

A child receiving treatment in the Hubbard tank under the care of physiotherapist Ada Moore.

A polio epidemic in the late 1940s and 1950s brought many patients with the disease in the Hospital. Striking mainly children and adolescents, in its severest form polio (also known as infantile paralysis) caused paralysis or even death. The Hospital's contagious ward provided isolation for polio patients, while the most modern equipment available was used to treat polio's effect on the muscles and limbs. Many patients made complete recoveries.

Members of the Hospital's nursing staff, so greatly experienced in the care of polio patients, traveled to other states at the call of the Red Cross in assist other communities struck by the epidemic. The Salk and Sabin vaccines curtailed the spread of the dread disease.

Out-Patient Department

The Out-Patient Department.

An operating room, 1953.

An operating room, 1953.

Radiology was also a field which experienced tremendous change. New ways were discovered to use X-ray to treat and diagnose many illnesses. Dr. Joseph Gershon-Cohen, who succeeded the Department's founder Dr. Howard Y. Pennell as Director, was at the forefront of some of these changes. He initiated such technology as the transmission of X-ray over wire so that X-rays could be read by a radiologist even when one was not present at the Hospital. He also developed the technique used in mammography and was a pioneer in advocating its use for breast cancer screening.

X-ray technician

A patient being prepared for a chest X-ray by Kathryn Hawkes, assistant X-ray technician.

Deep therapy

Deep therapy was the first use of X-ray to treat cancer, and the Hospital was among the first to secure the equipment, here in use in 1947.

Polio victims Polio victims

Polio victims who experienced paralysis of the chest muscles were placed in respirators or "iron lungs." In 1953 some patients treated at the Hospital were transferred to long-term care facilities in other states, requiring the use of generator to supply power to the iron lung. Assistance for the care and transfer of patients was provided by the Chester County Chapter of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.

Aerial view

An aerial view showing the three wings added in 1955 behind the original Hospital.


In the post-war year it became apparent that additional space was needed to accommodate the Hospital's new equipment as well as the increasing number of patients seeking care. A major program of expansion and renovation culminated in 1955 with the opening of three new wings added to the rear of the Hospital. The facilities provided by this project included two new operating rooms, a new children's department with 30 beds, an enlarged laboratory, new X-ray facilities, a large accident room, and a new central service department. The expansion brought the Hospital's capacity close to 200 beds. That year, with 55 physicians and 255 employees, the Hospital admitted 5,774 patients.

The Cupboard

The Cupboard, a snack bar and gift shop project of the Woman's Auxiliary, opened in a new location on the main floor in August, 1955. The Cupboard had opened two years earlier.

Laboratory facilities

Enlarged Laboratory facilities.

The School of Nursing also benefited from larger, more modern educational and living facilities. The new dormitory and the Rhoads Educational Building were ready for use when classes began in September 1960.

Nurses' Residence and education building

The new Nurses' residence and education building (lower left), 1960.

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

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The Chester County Hospital