New County Hospital, 11 Aug 1950, Comanche County, Kansas Hosted by RootsWeb, the oldest & largest FREE genealogical site. Click here to visit RootsWeb.
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The Western Star, August 11, 1950.

New County Hospital to Be Dedicated Saturday

A Brief History of County's Hospital

Entire County Unites To Realize Its Goal

Comanche County Hospital, Comanche County, Kansas. Photo from the Diamond Jubilee Historical Souvenir Program. Coldwater, KS: Western Star, 1959.

Comanche County Hospital, Coldwater, Kansas.

The development of the hospital movement is a fine example of what may be accomplished when the citizens of the county unselfishly unite their hands, their hearts and their pocketbooks to promote a common cause.

It was back in August, 1945, five years ago, during the darkest days of war that Ward Butcher, editor of the Western Star, was scanning the exchanges one hot Sunday afternoon when his attention was riveted upon an article on an inside page of the Topeka Daily Capital. The news story told of the Public health law that was being considered in Congress and which would provide matching funds to assist rural communities to establish hospitals and health centers.

He remarked, "That is our opportunity and the only way Comanche county will ever be able to have a good hospital." He wrote at once to Cong. Hope for a copy of the law and, being at the time president of the Coldwater Lions Club, be presented the matter to the group, asking that the club adopt a county hospital as a project, which matter was accepted.

Ward appointed a hospital committee, and two members, Gardiner Lyon and Horace Rich, attended a meeting of the Kansas Hospital Association in Topeka to learn about hospital organization plans. Meanwhile, the president and the secretary, Walter Ferrin, of the Coldwater club, presented the proposition one evening in Protection to 22 business men called together by the late Scott McCormick and they voted unanimously to approve a county hospital. A committee was appointed with Claude Rowland as chairman. At the Perry Wall home in Wilmore the matter was O.K.'d and a committee selected, with F. H. Moberley as chairman.

Later, as a Lions club was organized in Protection and in Wilmore, these clubs also, got behind the county hospital project.

On November 30, 1945, Dr. F. C. Beelman addressed a mass meeting of the people of this county and on December 10 committee members of the county made a tour of five hospitals to determine this county's needs.

On December 21 at a county wide meeting reports were given and the Comanche County Hospital Assn. was formed with Ward Butcher, president, C. O. Lyon, vice president, Walter Ferrin, secretary and Claude Rowland, treasurer.

On February 21, 1946, it was decided to circulate petitions as soon as the pending Health Bill passed. A delegation from this county went to a hearing of the State Hospital Board in Topeka and there told of the plight of Comanche county - 70 miles from the nearest hospital - a little girl dying on a lonesome highway in her mother's arms - no place to take a sick child; and of men dying with a burst appendix while trying to get to a distant hospital.

Comanche county later was changed from 21st place to 2nd place priority in the state.

A special election calling for the issuance of $102,000 in bonds for building and equipping a hospital was petitioned for, the County Council of Clubs, the Farm Bureau women and all other organizations scouring the county for petition signers. The result was 54% of the householders, or 729 out of 1336 householders, signed.

At the election on May 14, 1946, with no charges made for election boards or ballots, the anxious people of the county approved the bonds 759 to 58, with a vote of nearly 13 to 1.

The Board of County Commissioners then appointed a permanent Comanche County Hospital Board of Trustees composed of Horace H. Rich, chairman, Ward H. Butcher, secretary, Claude Rowland, treasurer, and C. Gardiner Lyon and F. H. Moberley, members. The board has continued to serve since that time.

Messrs. Rich, Moberley, Lyon and Rowland devoted much time to buying war surplus hospital equipment at the air base at Dodge City for about 20 cents on the dollar and much other preliminary work was done by them.

A bill permitting Comanche county to issue $50,000 additional hospital bonds is approved by the voters was introduced by Rep. Jay T. Botts in February, 1947, and it became a law. At an election the voters gave their approval by a vote of 885 to 76.

At a meeting on March 30, 1948, the firm of Hollis & Leaper of Wichita was hired as architects.

On July 5, 1946, the hospital board selected and purchased a hospital site consisting of a tract of land one block square located south of the Jay T. Botts residence in the west part of Coldwater and across the street west from the city park with its deep shade, fine picnicking facilities, swimming pool and beautiful memorial rose garden, complete with winding walks, seats and ornamental fence.

On May 24, 1949 bids for the construction of the hospital were opened and let, as follows: General contract to the N. F. English Construction Co., Hutchinson, Kans., amount, $130,250; electrical contract to the Hill Electric Co., Wichita. Amount, $15,938; plumbing, heating and air conditioning contract to Stevens Inc., Hutchinson, Kans., amount, $44,115.

Additional options of necessary work such as extra rooms in the basement finished, concrete driveways and parking slab, etc., have brought the total cost of construction to over $200,000 and with the room and hospital equipment ready to operate the total cost will meet the $250,000 mark. The government's grant totaled $75,000.

The building, which is constructed in a T shape, is completely fireproof with double walls of pumice block for insulation and three tones of mat faced brick. The overall dimensions of the 10 room, 18 bed structure is 160 feet in length and 120 feet deep.

Construction on the hospital was started in June, 1949, and was practically completed last month.

At the south end of the hospital is the maternity ward equipped by Wilmore and community and at the north end is the surgical ward which, including the operation room and the emergency operating table and its complete equipment, was furnished by Protection and community. The operating table, which has been delayed in shipment, is the same as those used in the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

The remainder of the hospital was furnished by the individuals and local organizations over the county.

Hospital to Be Dedicated Saturday

On Saturday of this week, August 12, at 2:30 p.m. the Comanche County Hospital will be formally dedicated by Gov. Frank Carlson. The services will be held at the hospital if weather permits. In case of rain, the services will be held at the school auditorium.

The hospital board asks that the business houses of Coldwater close from 2:15 to 3:15 on Saturday so that all of their employees may attend the dedication services.

Open house will be held from 1 to 5 o'clock on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The public is asked not to walk on the newly seeded buffalo grass which has been planted on the south half of the lawn, but they may stand on the north half, which has not yet been seeded.

In order to acquaint the public with the many fine features of the hospital during open house. Mrs. Muriel Gregg and Mrs. Lawrence York, representing the Wilmore community, will be in charge of the delivery room and maternity ward of the hospital. Mrs. Charles Jones and Mrs. Leo Williams, representing the Protection community, will be in charge of the operating rooms and surgical suite of the hospital, and about 25 members of the Coldwater Business and Professional Women's Club will explain the equipment and other fine features of the hospital.


Comanche County Hospital

The development of the Comanche County Hospital is a fine example of what may be accomplished when the citizens of a county unselfishly unite their hands, hearts, and their pocket books to promote a common cause.

In August, 1945, Ward Butcher of Coldwater read an article telling of a Public Health Law which would provide matching funds to assist rural communities to establish hospitals. He received a copy of the law and, being at the time president of the Coldwater Lions Club, presented the matter to the group, asking that the club adopt a county hospital as a project. A hospital committee was appointed and the proposition was presented to the communities of Protection and Wilmore. The project was received with a unanimous vote. Later, as a Lions Club was organized in Protection and Wilmore, these clubs also adopted the county hospital project.

At a special election in 1946, the voters of the county heartily voted for the issuance of bonds for building and equipping an 18-bed hospital to be built in Coldwater. The Board of County Commissioners then appointed a Comanche County Hospital Board of Trustees composed of Horace H. Rich, chairman; Ward H. Butcher, secretary; Claude Rowland, treasurer; and C. Gardiner Lyon and F.H. Moberley, members. The members of the board devoted much time to buying war surplus hospital equipment and other preliminary work was accomplished by them. In 1947 additional bonds were approved and issued by the voters of the county. A tract of land one block square was purchased in the west part of Coldwater, and in 1949 architects were hired to draw plans for the hospital. In May, 1949, bids for the construction of the hospital were opened and let. Construction started in June l949 and was substantially completed in July 1950.

At the south end of the hospital is the obstetrical department equipped by the Wilmore community, and at the north end is the surgical and emergency departments, equipped by the Protection community. The remainder of the hospital was furnished by individuals and local organizations over the county.

Saturday, August l2, 1950 marked a new era in health service for Comanche County when Governor Frank Carlson formally dedicated the new hospital. The fully equipped hospital was open for public viewing on this day and over 1000 persons signed the guest book at the open house. The three physicians in the county using the hospital were, L.G. Glenn MD, of Protection; R.A.J. Shelley MD, of Coldwater; and Ronald McCoy MD, of Coldwater. Eathel Boyle RN was engaged as the superintendent of the hospital and supervised the two registered nurses and four nurses aides who comprised the regular nursing staff.

The first official patient of the hospital was Mrs. William Mugley of Protection who was admitted twenty-eight hours ahead of the scheduled opening of the hospital to patients. She gave birth to a baby girl several hours later, attended by Dr. Glenn. One hour after her admission a second patient was admitted - Scott Shottswell with Dr. McCoy as attending physician. Later in the evening J.E. Dale entered as the first patient for Dr. Shelley, thus giving the Comanche County Hospital a busy start.

In 1953, Robert Bodmer MD, joined the medical staff, practicing with Dr. McCoy until 1955, at which time he moved to Kansas City, Kansas. In July of 1956, the entire community was saddened by the death of Dr. Shelley, who had practiced medicine for 32 years in this community. His kindness and sympathy for the sick and devotion to his duty as a doctor will long be remembered.

In 1957, the Comanche County Hospital Auxiliary was formed by a group of interested ladies from across the county. The auxiliary offers volunteer services in various areas of the hospital, including public relations, public education and fund raising. Mrs. Clyde Marley was elected president of the group of over sixty charter members. The auxiliary continues to function in this capacity and its members are to be commended for their continued support and dedication.

Over the next few years the hospital functioned as a vital part of the countyís health delivery system. By the early 1960ís it was felt the demand for more and expanded facilities of the hospital was needed and work began on a new addition. On April 5, 1964, the expansion was completed and open for public viewing. Changes made were the addition of two patient rooms, a new laboratory and x-ray department, emergency room and ambulance entrance, and medical records room. Renovation of several existing patient rooms was also completed with the addition of private bathrooms.

In June of 1969, Dr. McCoy moved his practice from this community to Dodge City, Kansas. His skills as physician-surgeon were greatly missed by his many devoted patients after practicing for 19 years in Coldwater.

The hospital has made many changes over the years to update services and care to the patients. A few of these are a new portable x-ray machine, EKG transmitting and receiving equipment, cardiac monitoring in two patient rooms and console at nurses station, color television in patient rooms, telephones at each patient bedside, examination table, and an infant warmer. Some of this equipment was purchased with funds donated by interested organizations and individuals from across the county.

The hospital employs about 35 part and full time persons, and along with the medical staff endeavors to continue to serve Comanche County with quality medical care.

Barbara Couchman RN, Acting Administrator

-- Comanche County History, Comanche County Historical Society, 1981.


Three Registered Nurses at the Comanche County Hospital, Coldwater, Kansas, 1954. 

Left to right are Mrs. Edith (Cline) Martin, a graduate of the Christian Axtell Hospital, Newton, Kansas; Mrs. Clyde (Thelma) Blackard, hospital superintendent, a graduate of Wesley Hospital, Wichita; and Mrs. Frank (Palvena) Barnhart of Protection, a graduate of the City Hospital, Denison, Texas. 

Mrs. Barnhart is holding Patricia Jean Snyder, daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Carl Snyder Jr. of Wilmore and Mrs. Martin is holding Beverly Ann Hackney, daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Robert Hackney of Wilmore. 

The 18 employees of the hospital include Miss Pearl Gerhart who, starting March 1, 1954, is the full-time receptionist and bookkeeper.

Photo courtesy of Martin Sizemore.
Three Registered Nurses at the Comanche County Hospital, Coldwater, Kansas, 1954.
L-R: Mrs. Edith (Cline) Martin holding Beverly Ann Hackney, Mrs. Clyde (Thelma) Blackard
and Mrs. Frank (Palvena) Barnhart holding Patricia Jean Snyder.
Photo courtesy of Martin Sizemore

Left to right are Mrs. Edith (Cline) Martin, a graduate of the Christian Axtell Hospital, Newton, Kansas; Mrs. Clyde (Thelma) Blackard, hospital superintendent, a graduate of Wesley Hospital, Wichita; and Mrs. Frank (Palvena) Barnhart of Protection, a graduate of the City Hospital, Denison, Texas. Mrs. Barnhart is holding Patricia Jean Snyder, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Snyder Jr. of Wilmore and Mrs. Martin is holding Beverly Ann Hackney, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hackney of Wilmore. The 18 employees of the hospital include Miss Pearl Gerhart who, starting March 1, 1954, is the full-time receptionist and bookkeeper.


Also see:

Ruth Botts, "She served as a Comanche County public health nurse and was a lab and x-ray technician at Comanche County Hospital for 20 years."

Edith Marguerite (Cline) Martin, "Edith moved back to Coldwater and returned to her nursing career, going to work at the Comanche County Hospital in January 1954. She worked as a nurse 20 years at the Comanche County Hospital..." -- Comanche County History, Vol. 1, p. 522.

Ronald "Doc" McCoy, M.D.

Coldwater Centennial Notebook, 1884 - 1984 by Evelyn Reed

Blow Dealt Polio By 311 Sore Arms: Protection Protected
-- The Protection Beacon, December 3, 195_.


Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!

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