Located on Winona avenue, the General Hospital of Saranac Lake opened on March 11, 1913. It could accommodate twelve patients, and cost $10 per week in a three-bed ward, or up to $25 per week for a private room; use of the operating room was $5. It ran a $4000 deficit in its first year of operation.
The hospital resulted from a 1911 meeting of Dr.Edward R. Baldwin, Dr. Joseph Nichols, Dr. Frank Kendall, Dr. Charles C. Trembley, and businessmen William C. Leonard, Seaver A. Miller, banker William Minshul, William Callanan, H. P. Coates and F. L. Fairchild. Construction began not long after; the lot was surveyed by E. M. Merrill, and the building was designed by Harry Leslie Walker and Beverly S. King of New York City. Harry Leslie Walker had worked in the office of Frank Lloyd Wright when he was a young man. The central and south wings of the hospital were a gift from Redfield and Emily Dutton Proctor as a memorial to Jane Hopkins Fairchild and Norman McLeod Carter.
The hospital admitted surgical, medical and maternity patients. Patients were not admitted for treatment of tuberculosis other than surgical procedures related to the disease. The superintendent was Emily Denton who, in addition to caring for patients, made supplies of candles and soap. She was assisted by a Miss Wilson, from Montreal, and at night, a nurse and a student nurse.
In 1923, two wings were added— a ten room maternity wing, a gift of Mrs. Bellamy Storer, and the five room, eight bed North Wing. In addition to cash contributions to the building campaign, the hospital received year-round donations of bed linens, clothing, and food of all description, venison, fish, rabbits, vegetables, and turkeys at Christmas and Thanksgiving. In 1941, the Men's Wing was enlarged using funds provided by the Hyde Foundation, and Edmond Guggenheim offered to finance several rooms and a children's ward in memory of his father, Murray Guggenheim.
In 1936, the hospital was accredited by the American College of Surgeons. Thoracic surgery, thoracotomies and thoracoplasties, surgical procedures used in treating TB, were developed by Dr. Edward Welles starting in 1923, and further developed by Dr. Woodruff starting in 1932 and Dr. C.G. Merkel starting in 1946.
In 1967, a new hospital was built on Lake Colby Drive, and the former hospital building was used as the main Administration Building of North Country Community College.
- Slack, Nadia, "Hospital always generated pride", Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 7, 1979.
History, 1911 - 1946
On February 18, 1946, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise printed the address of T. Edward Williams, president of the board of directors of the General Hospital, the purpose of which was to "acquaint the new members of the board with a brief history of the institution...." His text follows:
The decision to erect a Hospital in Saranac Lake was made at a meeting of Doctors and business men held in the office of Dr. Charles Trembley August 21, 1911 at which time those present were informed of the fact that Mr. Redfield Proctor and Miss Emily Dutton Proctor had expressed their desire to present a Hospital to Saranac Lake as a memorial to the late Mrs. Jane Hopkins Fairchild and Dr. Norman McLeod Carter.
The building was to be composed of a main two-story section which would house the operating room, administrative and nurse's quarters, and a wing extending to the south—now called 'South Wing'—which would furnish accommodations for twelve patients. "The organization was to be known as 'General Hospital of Saranac Lake'. Its object "the establishment, support and management of an institution for the purpose of affording medical and surgical aid to sick or disabled arsons of every creed, nationally and color, and shall be non-sectarian."
Dr. Baldwin was elected Temporary Chairman and Mr. Seaver A. Miller, Temporary Secretary. Permanent Directors elected were: Miss Mary R. Prescott, Mrs. Peter Sausenthaler, Dr. E. R. Baldwin, Dr. J. L. Nichols, Dr. F. E. Kendall, William Minshull, W. C. Leonard, W. J. Callanan, H. P. Coats, F. L. Fairchild, Seaver A. Miller, and C. R. Henderson.
On February 12, 1912 Dr Baldwin was elected President W. J. Callanan, V. Pres., S. A. Miller, Sec., and W. E. Johnson, Treasurer. At this same meeting the Board approved acquisition of about 2 1/2 acres of land from the Slater tract and about 1/5 acre from C. E. Moody. This latter parcel carried with it a 'right of way', 14 feet wide, extending to Lake Flower Avenue’.
In June, 1912 eight property owners of Winona Avenue petitioned the Board to have Winona Avenue made the main entrance to the Hospital and agreed if such was done to grade the street at their own expense. This petition was approved.
The present Constitution and By-laws were accepted August 12, 1912 and these By-laws created a Medical Board for the Hospital. This medical Board included Doctors E. L. Trudeau, E. R. Baldwin, J. Lawrason Brown, Robert M. Brown, C. G. Trembley, G. M. Abbott, C. F. Wicker, S. F. Blanchet, S. W. Outwater, J. C. Russell, Hugh M. Kinghorn, J. Woods Price and D. C. Twitchell.
Work on the building started in 1912 and was completed, and officially opened March 11, 1913; but with the completion of the main building other needs became apparent and funds were secured for the erection of an ice house and an isolation cottage. The latter building is still sound but plumbing and heating facilities are not modern.
During the first year of operation the Hospital had 90 admissions. In 1914 Drs. Heise, Packard and F. B. Trudeau were added to the medical staff. In, 1915, 197 persons were served by the institution and in that year the Village Improvement Society did considerable landscaping of the grounds most of which, including the pine trees on the westerly side of the property, continues to lend its charm to the property.
In the Annual Report for 1917 we find the first reference to Trudeau Sanatorium, it having previously carried the title of 'Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium.' In this same year Drs. Cone and Pfarre were added to the medical Staff.
The following year, 1918, Dr. Edgar Mayer joined the staff and this year also saw the inauguration of the noted William Morris 'Fourth of July Celebration' which benefited the Hospital by $1800. The following year, under the same direction, a concert given by Sousa's Band netted $2,400. In 1920 Dr. Gardner became consulting Pathologist and in 1922, Drs. Welles and Lent joined the staff. In 1923, 344 patients were admitted to the Hospital and by this time there was a need of additional facilities for hospitalizing patients.
The next year $65,000 was raised for new construction in the form of a maternity wing housing 10 patients and a Men's Wing - now termed North Wing — which increased the capacity to 31. The addition of this Men's Wing gave the building essentially the same western elevation which it has today. In this same year Drs. Wilson and Leetch became members of the medical staff and the following year Drs. Hayes and W. A. Wardner became members.
In 1926 there was an endowment gift of $5000 and this marked the beginning of a fund to supply the Hospital with non-solicited revenue. Heretofore all deficits were met by subscription with a very important part supplied by ‘The Auxiliary’, which continues to contribute materially to the Hospital. This same organization in 1927 held its annual rummage sale in the then uncompleted Hotel Saranac. In this same year Drs. Haskins and Sampson joined the staff. Four hundred and ninety-nine patients were served this year.
Two years later, 1929, the patient total increased to 750 and during that year Drs. Jameson, Johnson, McKee and Worden were admitted to the staff. Eleven thousand dollars was added to the endowment fund in 1930, Dr. Strong became a member of the staff to assist in handling 812 patients and in the following year Dr. Woodruff became associated with the Hospital. Nineteen hundred thirty two to 1936 Drs. Gedroiz, Fischel, Murphy, Beck and Brumfiel became members of the staff.
On Accredited List
In 1936 the Hospital was placed on the accredited list by the American College of Surgeons, a rating which it continues to enjoy. Dr. L. H. Wardner joined the staff in 1937 and in this same year the operating room was modernized through a gift in memory of Alfred Blunt Jenkins. That, after nine years it continues to be unsurpassed in similar institutions, is a tribute to those who designed this important unit of the Hospital.
In passing it is well to add that at the time of modernization it was winter air-conditioned and now, thru a gift from Mrs. Alta Rockerfeller Prentice, it is being equipped to supply summer air conditioning.
But this year of 1937 was not one without loss to the Hospital. Dr. Lawrason Brown a member of the staff and a friend, not only of the Hospital but also of the community, died. A second loss to the Hospital came in the death of Dr. F. B. Kendall.
In 1938 Drs. Henning, Harwood, Oakey, Muffler, and Taylor were added to the staff and that year was the first in which the thousand mark was passed in admissions, the figure being 1070. That figure was just about equaled during the ensuing four years altho the last one, 1942 saw the completion of the Guggenheim Wing in memory of Murray Guggenheim. That same year saw the completion of alterations and additions to the Men's ward, thru a gift in memory of Lillia Babbitt Hyde. These two additions increased the capacity of the Hospital to 50 beds, its present capacity.
Shortly after these new quarters were opened the shortage of nurses became acute and it was felt that more efficient coverage of the patients could be effected by temporarily limiting South Wing to patients who had special nurses. That naturally resulted in an accumulation of operative cases. The problem became quite serious in the early part of 1944 and a procedure was therefore adopted whereby thoracic surgical cases were admitted, treated and discharged in a manner similar to that which the industrial world terms a production line. That proved to be very successful from all angles and the result was that the entire backlog of patients was eliminated in less than two months.
While that plan was in operation during the early months of 1944 the increase in admissions was reflected in the report for 1943 which ended March 31, 1944. 1203 patients were admitted during the fiscal year of 1943.
In the fall of 1944 the Hospital entered into a contract with the United States Army Center at Lake Placid to furnish hospitalization for certain types of cases which the Army was unable to handle at Lake Placid. The relations with the Army were very pleasant and the contract proved to be very fair from all angles. The contract was terminated in the fall of 1945 after having run for approximately a year. For the first ten months of the 1945 fiscal year admissions to the Hospital were 1213. February and March admissions may bring the total close to 1500.
With the return of all staff members excepting Drs. Vorwald and Packard, from the Service, with South Wing opened and the Hospital completely staffed, from the nursing angle, to take care of our returning population and to meet the trend of the times it becomes our duty to consider additional facilities for the care and treatment of the ill.
As a means to that end the present Board of Directors have unanimously recorded themselves as being in favor of the establishment of a general diagnostic and treatment center to the end that this Hospital of ours may help to make men live better longer.
Malone Farmer, January 20, 1915
At the Saranac Lake General Hospital last week the operation of Caesarian section was successfully performed upon Mrs. Joseph Ziggs, and mother and child are doing well. The baby born as Julius Caesar was delivered is a lusty youngster. This is the first time so far as known that the operation has been successfully performed in Northern New York, seldom has to be resorted to . . .
Adirondack Enterprise, March 11, 1913
HOSPITAL OPENS WITH SIMPLE CEREMONIES
Saranac Lake's New $25,000 Institution Fully Equipped.
DONERS ABSENT FROM OPENING
Redfield Proctor, Jr., and Miss Proctor Do Not Appear—Addresses By Drs. E. L. Trudeau; E. R. Baldwin and John Stewart—Ladies Assist on Opening Day.
The Saranac Lake General Hospital was formally opened Tuesday afternoon. The hospital will be ready to receive patients on Saturday.
Simplicity marked the opening ceremonies. There was no ostentation whatever about the exercises by which there is inaugurated in Saranac Lake a $25,000 institution for the medical and surgical treatment of injury and disease. The formal exercises consumed less than twenty minutes. Dr. E. R. Baldwin, Dr. E. L. Trudeau and Dr. John Stewart were the speakers and each address was brief. Then, following a benediction by the Rev. George Roberts, Jr., the building was opened to the inspection of visitors.
About two hundred invited guests were present for the exercises. Later several hundred more people visited the hospital to look over the new building, and to discuss the advantages that will accrue to Saranac Lake as a result of having a general medical and surgical institution available.
It was a matter of much regret to everyone connected with the opening that neither Miss Emily Dutton Proctor nor Redfield Proctor, Jr., whose: beneficence gives Saranac Lake the building, was present. Both were absent, it was understood, because of their unwillingness to stand in the public eye and run the gauntlet of the hundreds of thanks; to listen to speeches laudatory of their generosity, and to he the recipients of the expressed gratitude of hundreds of residents of Saranac Lake. And their desire for as little publicity as possible in connection with this gift which they have made to Saranac Lake, influenced the trend of the program to a great extent. Still, the heartfelt thanks of those who have worked in the hospital organization was not to be denied expression altogether, and the warm gratitude which Saranac Lake feels toward these givers of a much desired gift went into the addresses of both Dr. Trudeau and Dr. Baldwin.
Dr. Baldwin, as president of the board of managers, presided at the formal exercises, which took place in the main corridor of the hospital. The speakers gave their brief addresses from the reception room entrance, within a few feet of the tablet upon which is inscribed the names of Mrs. Jane Hopkins Fairchild and Dr. Norman McLeod Carter, in whose memory the hospital is given. In his opening remarks Dr. Baldwin presented the hospital to the people of Saranac Lake on behalf of the board of managers, recalled the fact that it was given by Miss Proctor and Mr. Proctor in memory of Mrs. Fairchild and Dr. Carter, and then he introduced Dr. Trudeau as "the dean of the medical profession in this part of the country."
Dr. Trudeau said:
Dr. Trudeau's Address.
Ladies and Gentlemen:—I have been accorded the great privilege of welcoming you to the opening exercises of this beautiful hospital, which stands as a monument to the generosity of Mr. and Miss Proctor as a most practical evidence of their philanthropy and their interest in Saranac Lake and its people and as a touching tribute to the memory of Mrs. F. L. Fairchild and Dr. Norman Carter.
When I look about me at this beautiful building, fitted with every appliance that modern science can devise for the relief of the sick and injured, I am carried back in thought to my early days here when Dr. D'Avignon at Ausable Forks was the nearest available surgical help. The doctor was away from, home most of the time operating and could not be reached for many hours. When at last he was notified, he would drive forty-two miles over almost impassable roads, reaching here and operating after nightfall, and would do amputations and major operations by the light of a kerosene lamp or a few tallow candles, and with no assistance but what he could obtain from the guides or lumbermen!
Thanks to the establishment of this General Hospital the sick and injured have now within immediate reach the help they are often so urgently in need of, and another step in the development of our town has been taken.
Saranac Lake will ever hold the names of Mr. and Miss Proctor in grateful remembrance for their gracious and generous gift. All credit to the architects and builders for the good work they have done here, but you all know as well as I do to whose unselfish devotion and untiring energy in the service of his fellow men we owe it that the General Hospital is to-day an accomplished fact. At the risk of a rebuke which I will certainly get for mentioning his name, I say, we owe it to my good friend, Dr. E. R. Baldwin.
The next speaker was Dr. Stewart of Nova Scotia, a professor in Dalhousie University and formerly a colleague and co-worker with Dr. Lister, the father of modern surgery. Dr. Stewart mingled hospital history and Saranac Lake history in a manner highly appropriate to the occasion. He paid tribute to the genius of Dr. Trudeau, "who turned defeat into victory and made a little mountain village one of the famous health resorts of the world. Yes Saranac Lake is famous," he said "There is not a State in the Union, not a province in Canada, and not a country in Europe but that has sent representatives here in search of health. The results of the treatment here, the results of the laboratory work of the scientific papers written here and the contribution to medical knowledge of the world that have come from Saranac Lake have led to the designation of work here as 'The Saranac School.' And the distinctive feature of the 'Saranac School' is thoroughness."
The importance, of Lister's work in surgery was discussed by Dr Stewart. It was such that he became known as the world's greatest life saver, and as a result of the work which Lister did the physicians of Saranac Lake are now able in the new hospital to perform surgical operations undreamed of by the greatest surgeons of the world fifty years ago. The importance of having such a hospital as this in a community which otherwise would have to send sick people 100 and 200 miles to secure treatment, formed Dr. Stewart's concluding remarks.
In concluding the formal exercises, Dr. Baldwin said:
"It is a very great temptation a this time to say something about the donors of this hospital, but out of the high respect for those in whose memory the hospital is given, too sacred for a matter of public remark, I will merely declare this hospital open for general inspection."
The hospital and its furnishings were a revelation to the hundred's of visitors who went through tin rooms, wards and corridors. Beautifully located where it commands a splendid outlook over valley and mountain, it is a most inviting and interesting institution. Light, airy rooms, substantially and in some cases luxuriously furnished, offer an invitation to sick and well alike, and it is a foregone conclusion that none who saw the splendid arrangement and equipment on the opening day will ever hesitate to enter the institution when necessity may arise.
All of the more important furnishings were in place. Some of the minor furnishings, although arranged for, had not been installed, but it is promised that everything will be ready for the reception of patients on March 15.
Visitors were greeted and escorted about the building by ladies of the Hospital Auxiliary, who have had a large part in the arrangement for the opening and who are now undertaking a campaign to guarantee $2,000 a year to the support of the hospital. It was the ladies who were in charge of the reception, and it was the ladies who served refreshments in the prettily decorated dining room of the hospital. It was another lady, Mrs. Peter Saussenthaler, a member of the board of managers, who had charge of the contribution box, and who was kept fairly busy receiving contributions.
Among the ladies who assisted in showing the building to the hundreds of visitors were Mrs. G. M. Abbott, Mrs. J. C. Russell, Mrs. William B. Trowbridge, Mrs. William Minshull, Mrs. Kenneth W. Goldthwaite, and Mrs. M. C. Young.
Refreshments, during the first hour of the reception, were in charge of Mrs. Minnie E. Bogie and Mrs. David C. Twichell, with Mrs. M. E. Elliott, Mrs. S. F. Blanchet, Mrs. W. H. Willson and Mrs. F. H. McKee as assistants. During the second hour Mrs. A. K. Botsford and Mrs. R. M. Brown were in charge, having as assistants Mrs. W. F. Roberts, Mrs. W. E. Johnson, Mrs. J. H. Hallock, and Mrs. F. T. Tremble.
During the day a number of telegrams and letters of congratulation reached Dr. Baldwin on the opening of the institution. Among those who sent their kind wishes were Dr. Alfred Meyer of New York, Dr. Archibald of Montreal and Dr. Thomas French of Brooklyn.
Text of plaques in Hodson Hall copied at some past, unknown date:
This porch was built as a tribute to Dr. Lawrason Brown by a grateful patient 1937
2013-03-12 20:11:38 Certainly a fantastic publication about our Saranac Lake Hospital...my memories are of having two caesarian sections in 1957 and 1959. Dr's Bellaire, Dr Merkel in attendance at the time. In later years I attended North Country Community College and received two degrees. I then went on to Albany State University to follow my dream of being a teacher. This article brings back many of my life's memories. Thank you for publishing this very informative article of the hospital and college. —22.214.171.124
2013-04-09 14:42:34 Who is the writer for 3/12/2013 post - I may know this person - was at SUNY at Albany at the same time. —126.96.36.199
- I wish I knew! All we have is the IP address, which seems to be in Houston, Texas. You could try leaving your email address here, and hope they see it and contact you. It's a long shot, though. —MWanner