The Opening of the "Panther Creek Valley Hospital"

The Opening of the "Panther Creek Valley Hospital"

(Valley Gazette, June 1980)

With Coaldale Hospital in the news in recent months because of threatened cutbacks in personnel and services, Louise Fox of Hometown has come up with some interesting items from old issues of The Evening Courier dating back to the days when the hospital first opened.

The Courier's issue of Thursday, July 7, 1910, announced that the hospital would open the following Monday under its superintendent, Dr. E.E. Shifferstine of Tamaqua. The Courier said the hospital "stands as one of the most modern hospitals in the country.

"From the start the Mine Workers of America backed the proposition,' the article stated, "and on two occasions when the board was in need of funds the men responded by donating a day's wages. The L.C. and N. Company also did all in its power to make the institution a reality and besides donating the beautiful plot of ground on which the building is erected, gave an amount equal to that donated by its employees."

At that time, incidentally, the hospital was not called the Coaldale Hospital. It was the "Panther Creek Valley Hospital."

The Courier noted that Dr. Shifferstine was a 1902 graduate of Tamaqua High School and later graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. After serving on the staff of Ashland State Hospital he studied medicine and surgery under the direction of the greatest surgeons in the world at Berlin, Germany, the Courier noted. He then returned to Tamaqua and opened an office as a general practitioner. Assisting him during July and August were two student physicians, Charles Glassmire of Tamaqua and Sidney Quinn of Lansford. Consulting physicians for the hospital were Dr. C.B. Dreher of Tamaqua, Dr. E.H. Kistler of Lansford, Dr. H.F. Irvin of Mauch Chunk and Dr. J.G. Zern of Lehighton.

Anna S. Kutzer of Llewellyn was the head nurse and was to be assisted by Veronica Kazakevicz of Shenandoah and Nellie Close of Gilberton. Other employees of the hospital included Mrs. William Boyle of Tamaqua, cook; Winfield Oliver of Tamaqua, clerk, and David Jones of Lansford, janitor.

Andrew Breslin was the contractor for construction of the building under a contract awarded in September of 1908.

“It has three wards, sufficient to accommodate 30 patients, while there are also five private rooms,” the Courier said.

In an article on the opening day, Monday, July 11, 1910, the Courier reported four patients were treated in the dispensary. They were David C. Morgan of Coaldale, John Mitchell of Lansford, F.P. Malarkey of Girardville and E.P. McGinley of Lansford.

An article in the Courier on the hospital finances reported that the treasurer of the hospital association was John R. Boyle and the secretary was William J. Butler. Auditing the accounts were C.C. Bonner and Albert J. Thomas.