Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Our First Five Years

As we look back on how the hospital's roots have built a foundation in our community, we can't help but appreciate how the hospital got its start. Our community literally started from the ground up and used its own resources, funds and connections to create what we have today. Here's a glimpse of the hospital's first  5 years...

Long before HIPAA was a gleam in the eye of Congress, the local papers contained "hospital notes" giving the names of hospital patients and their health status. You could also tune into the local radio station, where patients names were read. From these notes we find the first major surgery at Community Hospital which took place the week of Nov. 17, 1949.  It was an appendectomy. And of course, we can't forget our hospital's first baby, Bill Smith of Fairfax. He was one of three babies born the first week of the hospital's operation.

There were also big headlines in February of 1950 when the hospital purchased its first portable x-ray. Funds were provided by the Atchison County branch of the American Cancer Society.

In June of 1950, the hospital announced that its 500th patient had been admitted. In that same time, 60 babies had been born. The June 24, 1950 edition of the Fairfax Forum relates,

            "The number of patients that have used the facilities of the hospital is evidence aplenty    that the establishment of the hospital here is more than justified. There have been instances where there is little doubt that lives have been saved because the hospital service was at hand. No doubt other instances could be noted where the availability of the hospital prevented illness or caused it to be less serious. The satisfaction to both patients and their relatives in being near home during their illness has no doubt been a large factor in speedier recover, to say nothing of the large amount of money saved by not being compelled to make long trips and several days visits to hospitals in other places."

The community had ceased to be no less appreciative of the efforts made to build a hospital as they celebrated 5 years of operation in 1954. The program for the 5 year anniversary celebration states:

            "Not until Fairfax was left without a medical doctor in the late 40s did the full force of the situation hit the community. Through the years young doctors would come to the community, establish a good practice, only to leave for towns where hospital facilities were located. The answer seemed to be "Build Our Own Hospital" but how?"

With the help of the Fairfax Kiwanis Club, the community pulled up their bootstraps and built the hospital with their own funds. This effort received both local and national acclaim. In the May 1951 issue of Readers Digest, Fairfax Community Hospital received mention for their efforts to build a hospital and successfully recruit physicians.

In 1954, the hospital celebrated its 5 year anniversary with the news that expansion was needed. It was decided to add onto the original building about 70 feet to the east. The second story would provide 8 private and two double rooms, increasing the number of beds by 12, making a total of 60 adult beds in all. The lower story would be used for offices and storage. S. J. Petersen was in charge of the construction work. 

Such a positive first 5 years was just the beginning of how Community Hospital-Fairfax would continue to prove it was a perfect fit in Northwest Missouri. 

Join us soon for another stroll down memory lane and please feel free to share your memories or connections in the comments section.