County bands together to build hospital


Editor’s note: This is the second of two columns detailing the birth of the hospital in Madison County.

In an article about the evolution of health care in Madison County, the Madisonville Meteor showed photos of some of the original hospital personnel. One, featuring four members of the hospital staff, included C.A. Tedder, business manager and x-ray technician; Earline Smith, receptionist and bookkeeper; and registered nurses Mrs. Roger (Nan) Shannon and Mrs. Mary Spangler. The latter was Director of the Nursing Service. Hospital caretaker H. B. Maynard had posed for another photo, after working hard to get the hospital’s grounds spruced up.

The Women’s Hospital Auxiliary advertised as seeking members. Active members would pay $1 per year, associate members $5 a year. Ola Heath Garrett was chairman of the Hospital Auxiliary Finance Committee.

The hospital was a community effort and most folks wanted to help. In an effort to help cut kitchen costs, the auxiliary was quoted as asking locals for vegetables and fruits to be donated and brought to the hospital, or “call Mrs. J.H. Howard, phone 118, and someone will call for vegetables and fruits.” Sam Standley, of Sam Standley Locker Plant, had donated use of a locker for surplus. Mrs. J.A. James, Auxiliary President, said, “Any food, eggs, vegetables, chickens, or even a calf will be welcome.”

The new Madison County Hospital opened May 20 and 21, 1950. It originally had a red brick exterior and was of modern design. It had 63 rooms, 21 patient beds, and was “equipped with the best designed equipment available. That included an emergency room, an operating room, a delivery room, a laboratory, and a manager’s office. Equipment included operating table, a delivery table, a fracture frame (I Googled: that was a bed with pulley to elevate broken legs etc.), and lots of modern equipment. The nursery included two incubators and six bassinets.

This information all came from that old newspaper; to learn more, I studied about the hospital in the History of Madison County, Volume 1. I quickly learned that the hospital got a good start. Income first exceeded expenses in November 1950.

When the hospital census dropped to an average of six to eight patients per day in 1951, area churches assisted with financial aid. That same year, Dr. J.E. Reed joined the staff.

Personnel changed through the years, of course. In October 1950, Tedder, the original hospital administrator, was replaced by Mrs. Don Ballard, who also served as Director of Nurses and X-ray technician. Following Ballard were Jackie Blakeney, James Goodrum, Herbert Adams, Lee Amerson, Bob Benthall, and Edward Clark. Directors of Nurses through the years after Mrs. Ballard were Nan Shannon, Mrs. T. B. Bumpas, Mary Jane Shannon, Maxine Manning, Mickey Powell, and Gloria Rice, all registered nurses. At different times, Mary Rigby and Mary Louis Boyd, both R.N.s too, worked as Assistant Director of Nurses under Rice

Staff doctors in 1963 were Drs. Heath, Reed, McKay, D.P. Heaton, T.T. Peck, and Kenneth Fannin. Dr. Bob Jones joined the staff in 1973, and in 1977, Drs. David Brannon and Sidney Kowierschke came on staff. In 1978, Dr. Grover C. Hubley began his practice here.

In 1954, the North Wing was built, with 12 additional beds. At the same time, the entire facility was air conditioned. In 1963, the 20-bed Parten wing was completed, thanks to the generosity of J.R. Parten. The Heath Wing addition was finished and accepting patients in 1973. The Clark Addition and Intensive Care Uni were opened in 1979, bringing the patient bed total to 77.

In 1982, Madison County Hospital was placed under the management of Hospital Corporation of America, with Bob Thackston as Interim Administrator. There have been other changes since then. At some time, it became what it is now, CHI St. Joseph Health Madison Hospital.

I hope some of the above names and info brought fond memories. If names were left out above, it was in ignorance, I swear. We owe all those responsible for our hospital a huge debt of gratitude. I could write much more than the above about my personal experiences at our hospital, or those of my loved ones. I’m sure lots of you could do the same.

Madison County Museum, at 201 N. Madison St., opens to the public Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Museum curator Jane Day Reynolds and volunteers welcome your visits. Memorials or donations may be mailed to the Museum at P.O. Box 61, Madisonville, TX 77864. The telephone number is (936) 348-5230.