Coaldale Hospital's 75th anniversary will be observed this year with a program that will replace the annual fund-raising festivals.

March 09, 1985|by WALTER KRAUS, The Morning Call

The festivals began in 1974 with Edward Baddick of Tamaqua as general chairman and were operated through the past 11 years by community groups and the hospital's auxiliary.

At the opening of the 10th annual 1983 festival, John Razem, then hospital administrator, said "This auxiliary, through its festivals, has donated over $200,000 worth of equipment to the hospital - we would like to thank all of you."

Robert H. Morris, administrator under a two-year contract that began last year with Geisinger Medical Management Corp., said last night the anniversary program is in the planning stage and no format has developed yet.

Mrs. Mildred Bottomely of Coaldale, president of the auxiliary, said last night the festival was discussed at this week's auxiliary meeting, "and we felt the volunteers needed a rest this year." She said a festival will be held next year. Mrs. Bottomely, Marie Kutza, also of Coaldale, and Mrs. Florence Tarlton of Lansford have served as co-chairmen the past two years.

Coaldale Hospital had its inception in 1909, according to Joseph H. Zerbe's History of Coaldale, when miners of the Panther Valley volunteered to donate a day for the construction of an institution. The Zerbe publication said, "The hospital arose from the needs of the miners in the valley for hospital accommodations." The publication points out Coaldale was too far from Pottsville for the care of injured miners.

The Lehigh Navigation & Coal Co., then operating the mines in the valley, "Tendered a site for the building and also informed the men that the money raised by them would be augmented by the company, paying a similar sum."

Work on the original three-story brick building was completed July 11, 1910. A total of $50,000 was contributed for the building built to accommodate 30 patients. The hospital had two wards for men and one for women.

The interior of the building was destroyed by fire in 1911, and nearby vacant homes were used until the institution was reopened two months later. An annex was constructed in 1927 and the nurses home in 1933. The latter is vacant and has been up for sale by the state.

Listing a series of firsts, the history listed Dr. Edgar E. Shifferstine of Tamaqua as the first resident physician and Eunice M. O'Donnell of Summit Hill as the first head nurse. The first nurses were a V. Kazakewicz and Nellie Close.

The first Coaldale doctor intern was Marvin R. Evans and the first licensed doctor to serve on the staff was Ralph Markle, a medical doctor.

Stephen Snikschak of Lansford was admitted July 14, 1910, as the first patient and on Jan. 1, 1932, Daniel Conahan was the first child born in the new maternity department.

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The first board of trustees included: Baird Snyder Jr., H.I. Silliman, both of Pottsville; Edward Evans, James McCready, both of Summit Hill; J. F. McGinty, C. C. Bonner, S.G. Seligman and W. J. Butler, all of Tamaqua; John R. Boyle of Coaldale; I. M. Davies of Lansford; Alonzo P. Blakeslee of Mauch Chunk, and Albert J. Thomas of Lansford.

An application was filed by a committee to make the hospital a state institution.

Morning Call files indicate that private duty nurses were granted an eight-hour day, effective April 1, 1946, by the Department of Welfare. All hospital employees were given a five-day, 40 hour week Jan. 1, 1953. Previously, all hospital employes worked 48 hours over six days.

Ground for the current five-story brick building was broken Oct. 14, 1970, and the $9-million facility was dedicated Oct. 16, 1973.