Memorial Hospital through the years
The origin of Memorial Hospital dates back to 1925. It was the dedication, vision, boundless energy and unadorned hard work of Mrs. Hila C. Mills that led to the eventual establishment of Memorial Hospital Inc.
Hila Mills: The Legacy of Memorial Hospital
Hila Mills was born in Towanda in 1897. She received her formal education in both the St. Agnes School and Towanda public schools, then worked in the Fisher Home for Old People, a business operated by her mother and located in North Towanda. This was her first experience in nursing and was the beginning of a career that was to dominate the remainder of her active life.
She worked with her mother in this occupation until Aug. 1, 1920 when she married Fred A. Mills. The following year, Hila Mills enrolled in the Chautauqua School of Nursing at Jamestown, N.Y., and graduated from that institution four years later in 1925.
Upon returning to Towanda in 1925, she opened the Mills Maternity and Convalescent Home located on South Main Street. She told friends that her main reason for opening the facility was that she had taken the responsibility for the care of a little boy and did not want to be separated from him.
This facility was only a two-bed maternity home, but that small beginning served as the foundation to develop what is known today as Memorial Hospital Inc. Mills declared that by opening the Maternity and Convalescent Home she brought the patients to her instead of her going to the patients.
The first year of Mills’ venture she had 56 maternity and medical cases. Her facilities became so crowded that in 1934 Mills erected an addition and the following year her former “maternity home” was licensed as a 21-bed private hospital.
In 1936, the house next door to the north was purchased as an annex, thus alleviating the load in the original Maternity and Convalescent Home and making possible an extension of services. This was the house in which Mills lived following her retirement.
The facility eventually became known as the Mills Community Hospital, licensed by the state for the accommodation of 27 patients, though in an emergency, 35 could be accommodated.
During the 1950s the hospital became more of a load than Mills could handle, and a Community Hospital Association was formed composed of business and civic leaders. The late Karl D. Shiner was the first head of this association and the late Dr. H.C. Down of Wysox was the first administrator, working closely with Mills.
New Hospital Housed in Ultra-Modern Building
In 1959 Memorial Hospital Inc. of Towanda was incorporated and assumed the responsibilities of hospital care in this service area. A 10-acre plot of land in North Towanda was purchased.
An old newspaper clipping indicates that the property was accessible by hard-topped entrances either from Route 6 to the west or from Pratt Avenue to the south. A 42-bed acute care hospital was constructed, which brought into existence a modern hospital facility and additional hospital services.
The two-story building contained 28,560 square feet. This space was divided between two floors. During the first year, 789 patients were admitted for treatment and 297 babies were born.
Fifty-three years have passed and Memorial Hospital continues enhance the quality of life in our communities by providing quality patient care and new services.
53 Years of History
1959: Jane Reuter Devall was the first patient registered at Memorial Hospital Inc.
1960: Lawrence Tama, MD, Memorial Hospital’s first surgeon, joined the medical staff. Tama now owns PhysicianCare PC.
1964: The hospital increased its bed capacity from 42 to 48 beds, without an increase in the building size.
1969: Construction for an addition to Memorial Hospital Inc. officially began. The new addition added 20,600 square feet and a better arrangement of services, including an obstetrical suite, x-ray department, patient room wing with private rooms, and an emergency room. In addition to the construction there was the renovation of 5,000 square feet of existing space. The basement area under this new construction was unfinished, but provided an area for future development.
1974: A four-bed coronary intensive care unit was completed at Memorial Hospital. This new facility was added to provide a concentration of skills, equipment and facilities for specialized nursing and medical care.
1974: Construction began on a new 43-bed Skilled Nursing Care Facility which was added to the existing hospital. An open house was held on Nov. 30, 1975.
1980: Lower level areas developed to accommodate new offices and restrooms.
1986: Completion of an expansion plan that provided new facilities for the Emergency, Surgery, Cardiac/Intensive Care, Physical Therapy and Central Sterile Supply departments. Renovations provided additional space for Radiology, Medical Records, Admissions, Laboratory, Respiratory Therapy, Dietary, Central Stores, Linen, Maintenance and Administration. Outside the building, parking areas were expanded.
1995-96: New construction of a Maternity Center, Med./Surg. nurses station, gift shop, and expanded facilities of the Skilled Nursing Unit including a dining room.
1999: New Personal Care Home constructed on the campus of Memorial Hospital. This beautiful facility is now home to approximately 30 individuals and is designed to comfortably accommodate 61 residents.
2000-01: Improvements and expansions continued. Spiral CT Scanner was added to the Imaging/Radiology Center; new Outpatient Therapy Clinic featuring Physical, Occupational, Speech and Massage Therapies; new 10-bed Same Day Surgery Suite; and an expanded Emergency Department.
2003: The hospital completed construction for a 20-bed Skilled Nursing Unit expansion. This construction also expanded areas for Cardiopulmonary services, a Sleep Studies Suite and other services. A new Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab Center was constructed adjacent to the emergency room.
2004: The Imaging/Radiology Center was renovated and a permanent MRI was added. The Center was dedicated in honor of the late Dr. Charles R. Wolfe.
2006: A new Medical/Surgical hospital wing and new Outpatient Therapy Clinic opened with additional facility renovations and improvements.
2008: Community Health Associates LLC, a company that provides opportunities for physicians to come into our area, was established. Medical offices are located in Towanda, Wyalusing and Dushore.
A Look into the Future
The Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees and Administration have approved plans to construct a new facility that will enhance the quality of life in our communities. The new three-story complex will accommodate an expansion of the Personal Care Home as well as provide office space for the growing Community Health Associates LLC physician group.
The Hospital Auxiliary
The first official hospital auxiliary was formed in 1947 and continues to be a tremendous resource for the hospital. Countless individuals have volunteered thousands of hours to support the hospital in a myriad of ways, from supportive patient care services to the annual golf tournament and talent show. Literally hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised through the efforts of this outstanding organization over the past 65 years.
Enhancing Quality of Life
Memorial Hospital’s history is full of dynamic individuals whose integrity, hard work, generosity and vision have paved the way to make Memorial Hospital an integral part of our community today. The current administration, employees, auxiliary, physicians, and trustees are dedicated to the continuation of the tradition of delivering quality health care.
These traditions are best expressed through the mission of Memorial Hospital: “To enhance the quality of life in our community by providing quality health care services with integrity and professionalism, in a safe, caring and financially responsible manner, while maintaining the dignity of our patients and residents.”
For more information about Memorial Hospital and a comprehensive physician directory, please log on to www.memorialhospital.org.