Eastern Maine Medical Center: 1892-1920

Mace Homestead, Bangor, ca. 1861

Mace Homestead, Bangor, ca. 1861
Item 16218   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

In March of 1891, a public meeting (in Bangor) is called for the purpose of forming a corporation for the "establishment, operation, and maintenance of a General Hospital for the charitable and benevolent purposes of aiding, treating and relieving the sick, injured and disabled..." The petition was signed by 70 citizens.

The following spring, five physicians -- Doctors William Mason, Walter Hunt, Everett Nealey, William Baxter and William Simmons -- publish a notice in the newspaper announcing June 7, 1892, as the opening date of Bangor General Hospital.

Excitement over the imminent opening is temporarily eclipsed by controversy among some physicians who charge that the newspaper announcement constitutes "advertising," a clear breach of the Medical Code of Ethics.

The dilemma is the subject of a paper read at the AMA annual meeting in Milwaukee, where Bangor's Dr. D. A. Robinson argues on the side of the alleged advertisers.

In June, Bangor General Hospital opens on schedule in rented quarters, occupying the gray stone Mace House, that was built in 1860s for $45,000.

Bangor General Hospital with tent, ca. 1894

Bangor General Hospital with tent, ca. 1894
Item 16210   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

In 1892, Elizabeth Spratt, a graduate of Boston City Hospital, is engaged as superintendent and charged with organizing a training school for nurses. Three students are admitted that summer for a two-year course.

The hospital's nursing care is provided by the "pupil nurses." The only experienced nurse is the superintendent.

The physicians are the faculty; they lecture on topics ranging from care of the sick room to the management of labor.

In December, Bangor General is incorporated under the laws of the state, and General Charles Hamlin agrees to serve as president of the corporation (today's chairman of the board of trustees).

One hundred citizens agree to join with the founding physicians to assume any deficit that might arise from the charitable work of the hospital.

A Visiting Board of Women is organized to inspect the premises weekly, assuring cleanliness and efficient management.

In 1893, Pricilla Blake's $1,000 gift forms the first endowment, with interest earmarked for charity care.

That year, the Woman's Hospital Aid Society is organized, led by a board of managers that meets in the YMCA building.

Taking a cue from Portland and Lewiston, the society introduces an annual fund raising event through area churches known as Hospital Sunday. In this first year, 271 women join the Aid Society.

Ellen Paine is recruited from Massachusetts General to replace superintendent Spratt.

Trustees agree to ask the Legislature for financial aid because so many patients are non-residents of Bangor.

These plans are then postponed so as not to interfere with the pending appropriation for construction of Eastern Maine Insane Asylum.

Eastern Maine Eye and Ear Infirmary headquarters are moved to Bangor General; infirmary services become available to patients at the hospital.

In its first year, the Hospital admits 150 patients, two thirds of them from beyond Bangor.

In 1894, the hospital purchases Mace house for $8,000 with subscriptions (pledges) collected by the trustees. Numerous repairs and improvements are made.

On Memorial Day the public is invited to tour the hospital. Many citizens attend, including members of the city government.

To relieve overcrowding, a tent is pitched on the lawn in summer; it shelters male patients recovering from surgery.

The Maine Legislature grants an appropriation of $5,000 in each of the next two years.

The City of Bangor funds two "free beds" (in return for an annual contribution, towns and churches could assure free care for their needy).

Donation Day in November now shares the calendar with Hospital Sunday in May, providing two sources of annual giving.

In December a registry of nurses is established: students provide private duty nursing in local homes; their compensation is a source of revenue for the hospital.

Nursing students, Eastern Maine General Hospital, ca. 1898

Nursing students, Eastern Maine General Hospital, ca. 1898
Item 9388   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

In October 1895 the visiting staff votes to divide into two sections: a medical staff (Drs. Woodcock, McCann, Swett and Edmunds) and surgical staff (Drs. Simmons, Mason, Hunt, Robinson and Phillips).

A colorful look inside the hospital comes from Nellie Elden Benner, class of 1897. "I started for the Bangor General Hospital (from Bar Mills) January 10. 1895, a day so bitter cold that I suffered all the way. I was met at the station by Miss Harriet Rolfe, the friend who had urged me to come here to train. We took a hack from the station and reached the hospital about 6:30. We went in the gray building, the only one of them. In the hall, men patients sitting in a line of chairs looked over the new nurse. The men's ward was on that floor and when the patients were able to sit up some they were allowed to sit in the hall. The women's ward was on the second floor and one room on the third was for patients, the others for nurses. As we went up through to our room, my friend looked in to the various rooms and told me each patient's trouble. Many were typhoid patients, but there were many surgical cases, too. The next summer the house was so full that the men recovering from surgery were put in a big tent on the lawn in front of the hospital."

The trustees vote that "The matron, with the advice of the attending physician, shall fix the rate of board, attend to the matter of having the necessary blanks signed by the patient, make out, present and collect the bills" and also, "That no patient residing outside the city of Bangor (except emergency cases) shall be admitted to the hospital without a letter from his or her physician stating the facts in regard to his disease, and also information as to his or her financial condition. While certain regulations are necessary and it is not practicable to admit a large number of patients free, yet the trustees believe that it is better to err on the side of liberality and they have deemed the wisest policy to be a liberal one." -- Charles Hamlin

A committee of three trustees (Messrs. Ayers, Humphrey and Cassidy) is appointed to invest cash donations.

Dental surgeon Dr. Langdon S. Chilcott joins the staff.

Electric lighting replaces gas lamps throughout the hospital.

A laundry is set up in the cellar, equipped by the Women's Aid Society for $1,227.

In 1896, "The trustees recommend that the name of the institution be changed (from Bangor General to Eastern Maine General Hospital) so as to show that it is identified with the state."

The place swarms with carpenters and masons, blacksmiths and laborers, arriving in horse-drawn wagons or stepping off the trolley that connects Bangor and Old Town.

In this year they complete an addition to the gray stone house, repair the exterior, improve the grounds, add an iron arch over the driveway, and build a horse shed.

Gifts include a parcel of adjoining land and the addition of "a very commodious bathroom" on the second floor.

Surgeon for the throat and nose, Dr. Harry Butler, joins the staff.

The annual report lists dozens of contributions to the work of the hospital: furniture and bed linens; used books, magazines, and toys; barrels of apples in the fall; canned fruit and fresh flowers through summer; special cakes and gifts at Christmas.

In 1897, the hospital is granted a charter by the Legislature

"I remember the committee from the State Legislature coming to investigate the little Bangor hospital to decide if it were needed, and if worthy of a state grant of funds. ...On this fateful day, the always immaculate little building had an extra going over; nurses wore their best uniforms, patients were implored to smile, look comfortable and not require bedpans while the Legislature was here." --Mabel Hammons, class of 1889

"A new ward building has long been considered a necessity, and as soon as it became evident that nothing could be obtained from the state for a new building, efforts have been made to obtain subscriptions, that would justify beginning work. Recently something over $20,000 has been subscribed for the purpose of running a modern brick ward building, to relieve overcrowded conditions, and to provide suitable surgical rooms."

The treasurer is authorized to make temporary loans between installments of the state appropriation, with approval of the president, and not exceeding in aggregate $1,000.

Work starts on the foundation of the new building; trustees vote to take down the stone wall bordering State Street and use it in the new construction.

The Hersey family donates a parcel of land adjoining the premises on the easterly side.

In 1898, the notebook of nursing student Nellie Elden reveals life inside the gray stone hospital: The staff of nine physicians share service responsibility, each covering for six weeks at a time; they teach nursing students subjects ranging from anatomy to care of the sick room. In addition to attending lectures and preparing for exams, nursing students, under the tutelage of Ellen Paine and the physicians, provide bedside care and surgical assistance, including ether administration.

Students measure and mix prescriptions (perhaps Dr. Woodcock's morphia cough syrup or the MGH recipe for flour paste); they clean patient rooms and "leave the house" for private duty assignments.

Dr. Bertram L. Bryant joins the staff, adding expertise in "pathology and bacteriology."

Subscriptions to the building fund are augmented by an appropriation from the Legislature; the permanent endowment fund shows a "gratifying increase."

The Women's Aid Society will furnish the new wards (for $1,893), with private rooms furnished by individual donors.

In October 1899, the new ward building opens with much fanfare -- extra trolley cars are put in service to bring curious crowds out for the official ceremonies and inspection tours, so they might admire "the pleasantness of the rooms, their comfortable appointments, the spaciousness of the wards, the facilities for fresh air and sunshine and general convenience of every department"

Fourteen nurses are now enrolled in training.

Doctors, Eastern Maine General Hospital, Bangor, ca. 1900

Doctors, Eastern Maine General Hospital, Bangor, ca. 1900
Item 16197   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

"Now this charity is recognized as an indispensable and permanent institution."

In 1900, the first interns are appointed: Drs. Luther S. Mason and John B. Thompson.

Flora B. Hinman donates a horse-drawn ambulance equipped with sleigh runners and the hospital purchases an electrical influence machine.

The boiler house roof is raised for new laundry machinery.

The average cost per patient week is $8.22.

Nurses and doctor at Eastern Maine General Hospital

Nurses and doctor at Eastern Maine General Hospital
Item 16198   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

In 1901, the hospital admitted 799 patients, an increase of 50 percent over 1900.

Just two years after the new building opens, crowded conditions again prevail, with many patients denied admittance.

A new and detached isolation ward is built for patients with contagious disease.

The ambulance made 188 trips in the first year of service.

The hospital built a new horse shed.

Eastern Maine General Hospital, Bangor, ca. 1899

Eastern Maine General Hospital, Bangor, ca. 1899
Item 16208   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

The hospital's tenth year (1902) brings to the fore the need for a children's ward (young patients are currently cared for in the adult wards).

"It must be evident to all that the presence of children in the ward with older persons is most annoying to the older occupants and far from beneficial to the little ones. ...The question which the (Hospital Aid) Society would ask of the public is this: Shall these helpless little ones be denied the opportunity of receiving such aid, as the Hospital would gladly afford should a suitable extension be arranged?"

An etherizer is purchased.

Five adjoining acres are purchased for $4,000.

Surgical unit, Bangor General Hospital, 1899

Surgical unit, Bangor General Hospital, 1899
Item 16207   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

In reviewing crowded conditions and the pressing need for a children's ward in 1903, trustee President Hamlin observes, "When we consider the large territory from which patients come and the inability of private charity, no matter however generous, to meet this want, it becomes a subject for liberal legislative aid. The experience of other hospitals amply proves that the running expenses of an additional ward are fully met by paying patients: therefore there should be no hesitation on the part of the State to meet this exigency."

A subscription fund is started for a children's ward.

First ambulance, Eastern Maine General Hospital, 1900

First ambulance, Eastern Maine General Hospital, 1900
Item 16204   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

In March 1904, typhoid fever strikes in Bangor and surrounding towns; the 54-bed hospital has 75 patients in treatment at once, more than half of them typhoid victims.

Patients sleep in ward offices and linen closets.

EMGH physicians endorse the controversial report of the Citizen's League Water Committee, which points to the drinking of river water as the source of contagion (the city piped Penobscot River water to most Bangor neighborhoods).

The prospect of "labor troubles" defers plans for the children's ward.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. William C. Peters joins the staff.

"The young people have cheerfully given their time to writing letters for the patients."

Nurses, Eastern Maine General Hospital, ca. 1908

Nurses, Eastern Maine General Hospital, ca. 1908
Item 16248   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

In 1905, the hospital raised the roof over the laundry to add rooms for nurses and domestic staff.

"For several reasons the completion of arrangements for the much needed children's ward has been deferred for the present, but as time goes on the necessity for this department grows no less." -- Ellen Paine

In 1906, Charles Hamlin wrote, "During the past year this matter (of a children's ward) has had the attention of its Directors and Trustees, and some progress towards its establishment has been made. The great want has been a sufficient fund to warrant its construction. ...The foregoing (extract from an article about Children's Hospital in Boston) will show how urgent is the demand for a Children's Ward. It is strenuously urged upon the Legislature and our generous people."

Ellen Paine resigns as superintendent and opens the private Paine Hospital on Center Street (in 1947 the property is sold to the Felician Sisters and becomes St. Joseph Hospital).

Ida Washburne from Massachusetts General succeeds Ellen Paine as superintendent and matron of the training school.

In 1907 the legislature grants $15,000 toward construction of the children's ward on condition that $25,000 be raised from private sources.

"The Hospital has been filled to its utmost capacity... it shows the growing confidence which the members of the community place in the Hospital."

The surgery is fitted with steel ceilings and a new operating table is purchased. Gas ranges are introduced into the laboratory and service rooms ("convenient in bacterial work and meal preparation").

An excerpt from founding physician William C. Mason's letter of resignation from the staff: "That fact...which has impressed me most strongly is the extraordinary change in public opinion concerning (the Hospital, even though its) policy and methods of management are precisely the same as they were originally. At its beginning and for years afterwards ninety-nine one-hundredths of the citizens, the medical profession with few exceptions . . .opposed the hospital ... Many there were who pursued the institution and us so fiercely and relentlessly and almost daily ... All this is now, and for years has been, not forgotten but rarely mentioned. It belongs to the past. Today the enemies of our hospital are as few as its friends and supporters were fifteen years ago. The crisis has passed years ago and now this charity is recognized as an indispensable and permanent institution.

In 1908, with generous bequests from two prominent citizens of Bangor, Messrs. Phillips and Oliver, the state grant is now available and the long awaited building of a children's ward begins.

In recognizing the generosity of Phillips and Oliver, Charles Hamlin alludes to the changing role of hospitals. "They saw our Hospital is one of the greatest public blessings of modern times; they saw also that it applies to households where actual poverty does not exist, but where there is no possibility of giving to an invalid the nourishment, the medicines, and the skilled care and nursing which he absolutely needs in order to insure his recovery."

Nurse with patient, Eastern Maine General Hospital, ca. 1908

Nurse with patient, Eastern Maine General Hospital, ca. 1908
Item 16258   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

In 1909 construction proceeds on the children's ward. John Wilson, secretary, wrote, "It now seems probable that in order to make the old buildings suitable for increased needs, it will be necessary to make some further quite extensive changes...but when the work is completed, the Hospital will be equipped as well, in proportion to its size, as any in New England."

A domestic building opens, adding more rooms for nurses a kitchen, bakery, refrigeration and storage rooms.

A hydro-therapeutic system is installed.

General Hospital, Bangor, ca. 1909

General Hospital, Bangor, ca. 1909
Item 14956   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

On January 1, 1910, the new children's ward opens with "suitable ceremonies attended by a large number." The first X-ray equipment is installed.

Nurses training is lengthened to three years: there are 25 nurses working and studying under the direction of the superintendent and two assistants curriculum includes cooking and Swedish massage.

The first medical student, Lester Adams, is appointed to work during the summer months (later, Dr. Adams will succeed Bertram Bryant and become the hospital's second pathologist).

Eastern Maine General Hospital, ca. 1910

Eastern Maine General Hospital, ca. 1910
Item 15263   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

General Charles Hamlin dies on May 15, 1911. As president of the corporation, he was "From the beginning, always a friend of the Hospital, ready to aid with advice, time and money. ...He was elected president at the organization of the Hospital and has been reelected annually ever since by unanimous vote" the last of the original trustees now serving the institution.

Prescott H. Vose succeeds General Hamlin.

A trained dietician joins the hospital.

Additional acreage is purchased to the west; 10 acres at $10,000.

In the wake of the Great Bangor Fire, safety measures for patients are expanded: fire extinguishers, stretchers and fire hoses are placed throughout the hospital.

Fire safety concerns extend to the patient record; a medical record office is established to centralize and safeguard patient information.

Sun room, Eastern Maine General Hospital, Bangor, 1910

Sun room, Eastern Maine General Hospital, Bangor, 1910
Item 16193   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

In 1912, retention of patient information is instituted.

Gifts include an operating table from the Women's Aid Society and a Victrola from "several young ladies."

"A painter has been employed, as it was thought to be more economical to have the work done by an employee of the hospital who could be on hand to do necessary repairs as needed."

The annual report notes the growing need for a separate home for nurses in training, The current plan is to move administrative offices to a new building, reserving the gray stone building for nurses ("a place conducive to rest and suitable for recreation.")

Eastern Maine General Hospital Children's Ward

Eastern Maine General Hospital Children's Ward
Item 16194   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

In 1913, the city Federation of Women's Clubs gives $1,000 to assist the hospital in establishing and maintaining district nursing.

Nursing students are vaccinated against typhoid.

The hospital purchases a second ambulance.

Superintendent Ida Washburn wrote, "The grounds are gradually being improved. This spring a number of maple and evergreen trees, together with some shrubbery, have been set out, and a vegetable garden has been cultivated at the easterly side of the hospital."

Women's Surgical Ward, Eastern Maine General Hospital, Bangor, ca. 1910

Women's Surgical Ward, Eastern Maine General Hospital, Bangor, ca. 1910
Item 16261   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

Through a gift from Col. Luther Peirce of Chicago in 1914, a balcony over the solarium of the children's ward affords open-air treatment of patients.

Trustees authorize the establishment of a pathology department, with a resident pathologist.

A second X-ray machine of the latest and most efficient type is made possible by an anonymous gift.

The acre under cultivation has provided the hospital with vegetables to "quite an appreciable extent."

Two ambulances now serve the hospital; the second purchased by one Michael Kane, and kept on the west side of town "so that calls from any part of the city can be attended to with equal promptness."

Eastern Maine General Hospital's Women's Medical Ward, ca. 1911

Eastern Maine General Hospital's Women's Medical Ward, ca. 1911
Item 16260   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

1915 is a banner year for nursing: graduation exercises are held for the first time with 21 graduates receiving diplomas.

Maine enacts the registration of nurses, a move first debated in the legislature a decade ago.

Public health nursing is added to the curriculum.

The state appropriation increases from $6,500 to $8,000.

"The constant work of the resident painter keeps the walls and floors in good condition and with the many minor repairs needed constantly in the upkeep of a hospital as large as this, the year has passed without any very large outlay."

Ambulance at Eastern Maine General Hospital

Ambulance at Eastern Maine General Hospital
Item 16200   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

By 1916, World War I threatens to cripple the hospital: "In response to official inquiry, the Military and Naval Departments have been informed that 80 beds could be devoted to Government use in case of war needs."

A leave of absence is granted to any physician or nurse who may be called for service by the government or Red Cross.

Solarium is added over the corridor connecting the surgical building with Phillips-Oliver.

A building fund is started for a nurses' residence.

Eastern Maine General Hospital, Bangor

Eastern Maine General Hospital, Bangor
Item 14957   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

By 1917, the hospital's ranks are sorely depleted. At the war's end, 11 physicians and 25 nursing graduates will have left to serve.

War brings "increased cost of almost all necessities of Hospital work."

Women's Aid continues the tradition of giving a Christmas party for patients and making annual donations of several hundred dollars.

Trustees list the most urgent needs of the hospital: a residence for nursing students, administration building, solarium in connection with the men's surgical ward, new laundry, new power house with ample coal pocket, a ward for contagious diseases.

Eastern Maine General Hospital, ca. 1913

Eastern Maine General Hospital, ca. 1913
Item 16199   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

In 1918, the influenza pandemic reaches eastern Maine and EMGH bears a heavy burden. More than 300 influenza victims are admitted.

Father P. J. Garrity offers his State Street residence as an annex; "in less than 48 hours" a hospital of considerable size was in running order and receiving patients.

"This past year has been ...one of unremitting hard work, difficult situations, anxieties as to how the work could be carried on and financial worries." --Prescott Vose

Trustee President Vose and his wife offer the use of their house at the corner of State and Essex Streets as a home for nursing students; a student residence remains the highest building priority.

A fluoroscopic unit is added to X-ray equipment for $1,500.

Nursery, Eastern Maine General Hospital, ca. 1915

Nursery, Eastern Maine General Hospital, ca. 1915
Item 16254   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

In 1919 "At the urgent request of government authorities, it was voted to establish an out-patient department especially for the treatment of venereal diseases."

A urology department is established with the appointment of Dr. Harrison J. Hunt.

The trustees vote to establish a social service department and ask the Women's Aid Society to investigate and make recommendations; action is deferred.

The laundry needs new machinery and the laundry building is in poor repair; the decision is made to have the work done outside.

Medical Building, Eastern Maine General Hospital, 1916

Medical Building, Eastern Maine General Hospital, 1916
Item 16213   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

In the 1920s, the annual report notes, "The business methods adapted to a small hospital cannot any longer meet the requirements of this large institution."

Nurse School graduates, Eastern Maine General Hospital, 1922

Nurse School graduates, Eastern Maine General Hospital, 1922
Item 16251   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

The trustees report a deficit of $14,139 in 1920, slightly down from 1919 and a concern that 36 percent of the care was given entirely free.

X-ray and pathology work continue to be good sources of revenue, but not sufficient to make up the loss.

Overcrowding subsides and student nurses are able to return to their hospital quarters.

Outpatient services now include: venereal and dental clinics, orthopedic, hydrotherapeutic, X-ray and laboratory, district nursing, and the care of patients at the Good Samaritan Home.

"Under the auspices of the Women's Aid Association the patients were enabled to have frequent drives during the summer months, friends of the Hospital tendering their cars."

Katherine Boutelle is named superintendent of nurses, "it having been decided to give more assistance to the Superintendent in the management of the Training School" (until now one person had filled both positions).

The corporation adopts new bylaws.

George H. Stone, M.D., succeeds Ida Washburn as superintendent.

Dr. Willam Castein Mason, Bangor, ca. 1920

Dr. Willam Castein Mason, Bangor, ca. 1920
Item 16196   info
Eastern Maine Medical Center

In 1921, under the new by-laws, the small executive committee meets monthly with Dr. Stone and holds special meetings whenever necessary, so that "the committee in authority for the operation of the Hospital will be able to keep in close touch with conditions, methods and needs."

The American College of Surgeons places EMGH on the approved list "after a rigid exam by their representative on the ground."

Reviewers urge improved record keeping.

Thaxter house is purchased as a residence for nurses.

An outbreak of typhoid fever strikes in September.

The annual report lists these departments: finance, grounds, publicity, auditing, insurance, repairs, housekeeping and engineering.

The hospital's first roentgenologist (today's radiologist), Dr. Forrest B. Ames, is appointed in 1922.

Ruth C. Ohlson, R.N. is named anesthetist.

The medical staff is "quick to avail themselves" of the discovery of insulin in the treatment of diabetes.

"The paint shop, which is now located in a room off the kitchen corridor, should be removed at the earliest possible time to a separate building. ...a carpenter shop and machine shop should also be placed in the same building as there is work enough to warrant larger quarters." --Superintendent George H. Stone, M.D.

Obstetrical delivery bed and gas-oxygen and ether apparatus are purchased for the operating room.

A metabolism outfit is installed in the lab.

The copy in this exhibit is taken from the contents of:

One Hundred Years of Caring, A Chronology, Eastern Maine Medical Center, 1892-1992

Copyright 1994, Eastern Maine Medical Center

Researched and written by Ann Trainor, Director Special Projects

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