In 1949, Muncy Valley Hospital planned new 57-bed facility
Editor’s note: A continuation of the history of the Muncy Valley Hospital as it currently keeps expanding prompted a compilation of events and names as the hospital grew over the years to include many outlying communities besides Muncy. This is the third part to the history series spanning years from 1948 to 1958.
MUNCY – In 1948 Muncy Valley Hospital was reported to have treated patients from 29 different communities that included Muncy, Montgomery, Hughesville, Picture Rocks, Eagles Mere, Laporte, Turbotville, Sonestown, Watsontown and Allenwood.
So in 1949 land was purchased to the east of the Noble House hospital, and plans for a new 57 bed facility were in place.
Construction began where the current site is now in the summer of 1949 and continued through 1950 as recorded in the August 2003 issue of Now and Then magazine. The new hospital was dedicated in March 1951.
Public comments taken at the time justified the need for a new facility which indicated a laboratory and x-ray department, a larger bed capacity, and an up-to-date emergency room with more adequate operating rooms for serious accidents that need immediate care and minor surgery. An elevator was also in demand, so the nurses “won’t stumble up those steps with loaded trays, and the trays reach the patients with milk, coffee and soup splashed all over everything, including the nurses’ uniforms and shoes,” said a local resident at the time.
There were several reasons given to substantiate the need for a larger hospital. Looking ahead, the need was there and based on statistics, the birth rate had increased over the entire United States.
A new hospital in a fire proof building with an elevator, a modern diet kitchen and modern equipment was provided for the community through fundraising and private financial support. Bronze memorial plaques were placed near doors of sponsored rooms and units.
The Roland Ritter Post sponsored the waiting room, out-patient clinic and x-ray room with a $2500 contribution. Sprout-Waldron matched employee contributions and targeted $40,000 for the main entrance section including the lobby, two private rooms, the emergency unit and adjacent utility room. Two Montgomery firms, J.C. Decker and Isaac C. Decker each gave $4500 to the campaign.
In April 1952 Sprout-Waldron Company made a steel bassinet carrier and donated it to the hospital’s nursery unit. It was designed to transport six babies at once from the nursery to their mothers.
Maternity cases went from the home to the hospital. 40 babies were born in 1935 and 252 were born in 1948, a 600 percent increase.
A report dated for May 1953 stated the Muncy area visiting nurses “presented by the commitee at the home of Mrs. Charles Sprout, revealed that 171 visits were made bringing a total for the year to 875. Of the 171 visits, 143 were non-communicable diseases, 16 for tuberculosis and the rest ranging over a variety of ailments.”
An article that was written in the Luminary on June 11, 1953 by Virginia Heberling described a decorating uplift to the hospital’s annex which took place with an official opening on June 8, 1953. The annex was converted from the Noble Mansion as a home for the aging with painted pastel green and yellow walls matched with gray and white woodwork. “Bright flowered draperies and white waffled curtains were added to make a pleasant home for many of the elderly in the community who need special care, but able to be up and around every day.” This was the beginning of the Muncy Skilled Nursing Unit.
Miss Rose Prosser was director of nursing at the annex and a nurse’s aid was on active duty 24 hours a day. Food was delivered from the main hospital building in a heated cart and some guests were able to eat “family style in the dining alcove of the living room.”
The first floor had 4 semi-private bedrooms with two beds each especially equipped for “chronic old age cases”. A nurse’s station at the end of the hall was equipped with a phone and a new call system with an automatic voice transmitter to the nurses stations on the first and second floors of the main hospital. The bedrooms were large with a wash bowl installed in each one, along with new mattresses and repainted furniture.
The Hughesville and Muncy ladies auxiliaries made draperies that came from a 100 dollar donation and purchased additional fabric to fit all the windows. “It was a small pattern of red and green on a gray backgroud.” Two maroon wool blankets were furnished by the Picture Rocks auxiliary. Isaac C. Decker Furniture made platform rockers and straight chairs for each of the bedrooms.
The living room downstairs with the fireplace and picture window was once the office of the “old hospital” and was now decorated with a new green and gray living room suite donated by International Furniture Company which also provided furniture on the second floor in the board room and the nurse’s living room on the third floor.
In 1956 an obstetrics department was added to the first floor of the main hospital. Room rates increased in 1958 to offset rising fees for supplies and services and general operations. A daily rate for a private room was $16 and $12.50 for a semi-private room. A ward was $10, pediatrics, $10 and newborns $4.
In July of 1958 an open house was held for a new east wing, the largest expansion to date. The ground floor included a complete laboratory, medical staff library, medical records department, additional storage for both medical-surgical supplies and medical gases as reported in Now and Then.
In 1958 Muncy Valley Hospital recorded 2,328 admissions, three times more than what was recorded in 1948. There were over 18,000 laboratory tests, 4400 plus x-rays taken, 4,250 emergency cases and 372 births.
Jean Gardner Camp of Watsontown remembers a flat rate of $50 at the time for a private room and nursery care for 14 days.