HISTORY OF THE PAYETTE HOSPITAL
Part One: The early years 1938-1946.
By: Tara Cutler
Additional research by:
Kay Stauff, Tess Warzyn, Jon Trail and Mary Trail
"Where were you born?" He asks.
"The Payette Hospital."
"There is a hospital in Payette?" He had lived in Payette for some time now and he didn’t know of any hospital.
"Well it first began in the 1930’s and it was located where the Sunbridge nursing home is today."
In October 1938, Hugh Allen announced that he has leased the Pearce home which he plans to remodel into a modern hospital. (Oct. 6, 1938). The official opening of the Payette General Hospital was held on December 22, 1938 and the public has been invited. Allen was an experienced hospital operator. His parents owned a hospital in St. Louis, Missouri and he operated a hospital at 626 North 6th Street in Payette for the last 6 years. The hospital had 30 beds but could hold 45 patients if there was an emergency. The facilities include a minor surgical room, an operating room, five bed women’s ward and a five bed men’s ward. The Portia club and Martin O. Luther, the probate judge, have provided furnishings including two hospital beds. The surgical and operating rooms are described to have some of the most advanced technology of the day. Allen and his wife and seven other people will work at the hospital. One is a registered nurse. (Dec. 15, 1938).
One hundred fifty people showed up when the hospital opened officially. Flowers were provided by the Payette Greenhouse and other small businesses. The wives of the doctors poured the tea. (Dec. 29, 1938).
In February a new X-ray machine was purchased which allowed the diagnosis of intestinal problems. Patients swallowed Berium, a new advancement in medicine at that time. This machine also X-rayed fractures and broken bones. (Feb. 16, 1939).
In May, Raymond Hughes, President of the Chamber of Commerce, appointed a committee of people interested in putting the hospital on a "solid foundation". Committee members were B. F. McCarrol, chairman, Fred Stanton, N.M. Jensen, Lou Foster and George Wisner. Arrangements were made for experienced hospital operators to inspect the hospital to make recommendations for enlargement of the building and equipment needs. (May 9, 1940). However, by the end of May, Hugh Allen’s bankruptcy notice was published in the paper. A long list of hospital supplies were listed for sale. (May 30, 1940).
In July the hospital goes under new management. J. E. Moore purchased the equipment and the lease for the hospital. The manager will be Mr. A. H. Repp a graduate nurse who had been previously the manager of the hospital in Prairie City, Oregon. Mr. Repp said that the hospital will be completely remodeled and redecorated and new equipment will be added. (July 11, 1940). At this time the Payette General Hospital news became a regular column in the paper.
In November the hospital provided a crippled children’s clinic. Any person under 21 was eligible to be examined for a variety of conditions such as; bone deformities, curvature of the spine, and cleft palate. Each child had to bring a clean cotton sheet. Assisting with the clinic is Mrs. Ed Sedlmayer, the school nurse, and Miss. Margaret McClain, a child welfare worker. (October 24, 1940)
In June 1941 Alec Repp assisted local doctors Richard Woodward, George Davis, and John Kaiser with physical examinations on prospected army draftees out of 47 men only 18 passed. The most common problems were flat feet, heart murmurs, and poor teeth. Two men were rejected for illiteracy. (June 5, 1941)
A tonsil clinic was held in July 1941. 35 children were examined by the local doctors. 26 children were in need of a tonsillectomies. These were to be performed at the hospital during the 2nd week in August. (July 31, 1941) 30 tonsillectomies were eventually were performed. The costs of the operations were paid for by the parents. In some cases the Farm Security administration helped farming families with the costs. A number of community organizations contributed to the costs of the clinic. (September 18, 1941)
Huge Allen died in his own former hospital in August of 1941. (August 28, 1941)
Several mouths later, a group of community members met to discuss the need for modernizing and improvement of the hospital. "It will be the plan of the new organization to propose ways and means whereby Payette may boast of a hospital in keeping with the size and requirements of the community." Committees were formed. The chairman was E. R. Farber, Mrs. Vern Spaulding, secretary and finance committee members were B. F. McCarroll, John Kenward and E. H. Murphy. Mrs. Ione Whalen, Mrs. Ethel Alters, Mrs. Tom McKay and Mrs. I.R. Woodward were asked to visit other hospitals in the area. (October 23, 1941)
At the next meeting Dr. C. E. Carver spoke of his experiences at the hospital in Emmett. He talked about raising money with a county-wide hospital insurance plan. Premiums from those with insurance would pervade the necessary funds. He also suggested seeking government funds. And another committee was formed with the members of Mrs. George Irwin, Mrs. Tom McKay and Mrs. Ed Sedlmayer. They were asked to contact people from Fruitland and New Plymouth to determine their interest in the project. George Wisner, a contractor spoke about the coast of remodeling of the current hospital vs. a new hospital. (October 30, 1941)
The headline said, "Incubator Saves Premature Baby." However the headline became premature and horribly wrong. Twin boys born in to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Sinclair were admitted to the hospital on a Sunday on Monday the day after one of the twins died. An incubator was quickly made in the record breaking time of six hours in hope to save the last twin. A local wood worker, Archie Prindle, made the box and Tollie Masingill, electrician, provided the heat regulator which was controlled by a thermostat. (March 12, 1942). (Unfortunately, the twin only lived three more days. Both twins are buried in an unmarked grave in Riverside Cemetery.)
In April, the hospital volunteer committee held a tea party at the Portia club house as a fundraiser to help pay for new equipment for the hospital. The ladies who poured were Mrs. Richard Woodward, Mrs. J.J. Kaiser, Mrs. I.R. Woodward, Mrs. J.A. McMillan and Mrs. Mary Wilson. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wilson and Miss. Jean Pence presented a musical program. (April 2, 1942)
In May, Mr. and Mrs. Byron Musgrove and some of their friends established a memorial fund for the hospital in memory of their son Bobby. Bobby was killed while riding his bike. He was hit by a policeman at the intersection of Third Avenue North and Fourth Street just two blocks from home. (April 2, 1942) The money was used to buy a special table for in the children’s room at the hospital. (May 21, 1942) The following December the hospital committee appointed Miss Marian Crawford as head of the memorial fund. The hospital wish list was: a fracture bed, oxygen tank, light for the operating room, bathing table for the nursery, cabinets for clothing and new beds. (December 3, 1942) Supporting the memorial fund was Mrs. Harry Pence in memory of her husband who donated the fracture bed equipped with chrome finished overhead extensions. (September 23, 1943). Earlier in the year, the Payette Business and Professional Women’s club purchased a blood transfusion set. (June 24, 1943)
By 1944, community members were meeting to discuss hospital needs. Dr Kaiser said there was a need for more modern equipment. He also said," Sometimes the hospital is overcrowded by having more than twenty-three patients." Many community organizations were represented at the meeting and a new committee was appointed to explore the possibility of incorporating the hospital. Committee members were appointed by Chairman Earl R. Farber. They were Jack Hanigan, Ione Whalen, Arthur Sawyer, Mayor J.A McMillan, and Mrs. Lillian Wilson. (January 20, 1944)
The next week the new committee met to make plans for the incorporation of the organization. Membership fees were set at one dollar. The intention of the group was to raise funds for a modern fully equipped hospital. (January 27, 1944)
In March, Col. W. H. Moss announced that the American Legion post will finance the addition for a maternity room for the hospital. Space for the additional room will be provided by dividing the front office. (March 16, 1944)
The following August Mr. Alec Repp was tragically killed by a fire truck accident out on Washoe. Two other fire fighters were injured. They were Harry Anderson and Vic Ashburn. Also riding on the truck was "Shorty" Farson. An ambulance came and took the injured men to the hospital. The strange thing is, just like Hugh Allen, Alec Repp also died in his own hospital. (August 24, 1944)
In October Dr. J. J. Kaiser purchased the hospital from Margaret Repp, Alec’s widow. Mary Motley was the superintendent. Redecoration and renovation work was planned. (October 5, 1944)
A Gala benefit party and dance was held at the Bancroft Hotel sponsored by the night clubs in the area. George "Old Joe" Morris was in charge. $1300.50 was raised to buy equipment for the hospital. (November 2, 1944) The equipment purchased was a surgical sink with heater, matabolor, three crank beds, baurnanometer, six bed lamps and an aspirating machine. All the equipment will belong to the new hospital association. (December 7, 1944)
The following January Mr. and Mrs. Rader took over management of the hospital. They were both registered nurses. (January 15, 1945) However by the following December, the Raders gave notice that they were leaving. (December 5, 1945).
After the Rader’s resignation the Pearce family received offers form several buyers that wanted to convert the hospital in an apartment house. At this point Bernard Eastman, a local realtor and developer, stepped in and purchased the hospital on behalf of the newly formed community group. According to the article in the paper, "The Payette General Hospital has been operated successfully for the past several years and the community has taken considerable pride in the institution by purchasing considerable equipment and furnishings. Excellent service had been given. The institution and the community is most appreciative of the efforts of Eastman in making the arrangements whereby its continuation may be assured." (December 13, 1945)
A series of meeting were held during the rest of the year and in to 1946. In general, two proposals were considered. The first was to keep the present hospital open and build a new hospital on that site. The current building would be used as a living space for the nurses. The second proposal was to buy a new site and build an entire new hospital. The Raders agreed to stay a bit longer. (January 10, 1946)
By the end of January, the Payette Valley Hospital Association adopted the articles of incorporation. (January 31, 1946) Even more meetings were held. The association eventually determined that their best option would be to keep the hospital at its present location. A fund raising effort began. (March 28 1946) 14,000 dollars was needed to buy the hospital, equipment, and land and provide the beginnings of a fund to build a new hospital on the site. Col. Wentworth Moss and George Sedlmeyer agreed to head up the collection of funds in Payette, Harry Evans in Fruitland and Fred Schmidt and Paul Penrod in New Plymouth. (March 28, 1946)
The April 4th issue of Independent Enterprise headlined "Sponsors Work Against Time on the Hospital Fund – Full Quota Must Be in Bank by Ten O’clock Saturday Morning". The option to purchase the property was set to expire. Fund raising Chairman Larry Brainard said that the funds from the Payette area had been coming in, but not from Fruitland or New Plymouth. He urged all those who had committed funds to deposit them in the bank by Friday afternoon. (April 4, 1946)
Sufficient funds were raised by the deadline – April 6th. This prevented the building from being sold for commercial purposes and the disbursement of the hospital equipment. The hospital board expressed appreciation to all who donated. Approximately125 individual donated in amounts ranging from $500 or less and were from all areas of the county. The Rader’s moved to Caldwell and the management of the hospital was taken over by I.C. Moseley. During the fund raising campaign, the association members said that "the board was committed to the proposition that the present hospital would not be remodeled and that a new hospital building will be made available for living quarters for nurses. Some time will be required for financing plans and other details for the erection of the new hospital building." (April 11, 1946)
The final settlement for purchase of the property, building, irrigation shares and equipment was April 13, 1946. Mr. and Mrs. Rader inventoried the equipment. Mr. Moseley began cleaning up the yard and gardens. Mr. Price will plant a vegetable garden available for hospital use. Other needs were repairing the porch screens and roof, installing a new sign and painting the out side of the building. "The board was very pleased to report that payment of the property in full had been accomplished and that the people of Payette county should take pride in the fact that sufficient funds were raised to not only avoid the loss of the hospital to the community but to make the necessary improvements." (April 18, 1946)
The Payette Valley Memorial Hospital had finally become a reality.
"Alec Repp dies Wednesday as a result of fire truck accident" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, August 24, 1944, p1.
"Association to plan hospital" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, January 20, 1944, p1.
"Benefit party brings 1300.50" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, November 2, 1944, p1.
"Bobby Musgrove fatally injured Wednesday Eve" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, April 2, 1942.
"Caldwell folk to manage hospital" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, January 18, 1945, p.
"Chamber alert community int" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, May 9, 1940, p1.
"Clinic to benefit crippled children" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, October 24, 1940, p1.
"Club purchases hospital equipment" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, June 24, 1943, p.1
"Dr. Kaiser buys Payette hospital" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, October 5, 1944, p1.
"Eastman buys local hospital; will continue" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, December 13, 1945, p1.
"Few registrants pass examinations" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, June 5, 1941, p.1
"Group discusses hospital question" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, October 30, 1941, p.1.
"Hospital board meets Monday" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, January 27, 1944, p1.
"Hospital group plans memorial" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, December 3, 1942, p1.
"Hospital meeting held Tuesday" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, October 23, 1941, p1.
"Hospital opening" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, December 29, 1938, p
"Hospital tea" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, April 2, 1942, p12.
"Hospital to open soon" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, October 6, 1938, p5.
"Improvements at local hospital" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, March 16, 1944, p12.
"Incubator saves premature baby" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, March 2, 1942, p10.
"Makes valuable hospital donation" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, September 23, 1943, p10.
"Meeting called about hospital" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, January 10, 1946, p.1.
"Memorial fund hospital benefit" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, May 21, 1942, p1.
"New equipment at local hospital" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, February 16, 1939, p1.
"New hospital equipment here" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, December 7, 1944, p12.
"NO. 5277 Notice of sale at private sale……" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, May 30, 1940.
"Payette General hospital under new management" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, July 11, 1940, p1.
"Payette hospital open to public on December 22" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, December 15, 1938, p1.
"Payette Valley Hospital Assn. is incorporated" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, January 31, 1946, p1.
"Payette Valley Hospital Assn. makes plans for solicitation of funds for purchase of location" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, March 28, 1946, p1.
"Payette Valley Hospital becomes reality as board completes arrangements to buy Property" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, April 11, 1946, p1.
"Payette Valley now owns its own hospital – result of deal completed here Monday" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, April 18, 1946, p1.
"Raders to leave local hospital" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, December 6, 1945, p1.
"Sponsors work against time on hospital fund" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, April 4, 1946, p1.
"Tonsil clinic corrects defects" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, September 18, 1941, p1.
"Tonsil clinic is held Wednesday" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, July 31, 1941, p5.
"Tonsil clinic proves success" Independent Enterprise. Thursday, September 2, 1943, p1.