HJ - Bethany Muller

Bethany Muller discussed the history of Clarinda Regional Health Center during the First Sunday Program Sunday, Sept. 1, at the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum in Clarinda. The original hopsital opened 80 years ago. (Herald-Journal photo by Dan Eshelman)

During a dedication ceremony for the Clarinda Municipal Hospital on Sept. 12, 1939, Mayor M.M. Dryden praised the cooperative effort that had brought the new facility into existence.

  “Because of the undisputed fact that hundreds and hundreds of people have done their part, it is an honor and a privilege to me, at this time, on behalf of everyone who made this hospital possible, to dedicate it to the great and wonderfully fine, humanitarian purpose for which it was built,” Dryden said.

  He then turned they keys over to Joe Faassen, chairman of the hospital’s board of directors, who urged area residents to support the operation of the facility in much the same manner as they had supported its construction.

  Details about the ceremony were featured on one of three panels displayed by Bethany Muller at the First Sunday program Sept. 1 at the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum in Clarinda. Two other panels featured data about the facility in subsequent years.

  The information was compiled as part of the observance of the opening of the original hospital 80 years ago. It served the area until 2012, when it was replaced by the Clarinda Regional Health Center.

  The panels trace the history of the facility to 2000, but “we will continue to add to these pieces, said Muller, business development and marketing manager at CRHC.

  The current panels will be on display Sunday, Sept. 8, during special activities at the facility to mark the 80-year anniversary. Events are scheduled from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

  The dedication ceremony in 1939 attracted more than 2,000 people, who then had an opportunity to tour the interior of the 40-bed hospital.

  They looked at patient rooms, the operating room, the delivery room, the nursery, the sunroom, the laundry room, the kitchen and the lobby, along with the laboratory and equipment.

  There were so many visitors that hospital personnel had difficulty guiding individuals and groups through the packed corridors.

  The guest book for the event was signed by people from 50 towns and nine states.

Clarinda attorney Homer Stephens was in charge of the formal program, introducing Macie Knapp, hospital superintendent; members of the nursing staff; Joseph Evans, regional director with the federal Public Works Administration (PWA) office in Omaha; U.S. Sen. Clyde Herring of Iowa; Otha Wearin, former U.S. Representative from Iowa’s 8th District; District Judge H.J. Mantz of Audubon; and Burdette Higgins of Des Moines, architect for the project.

  The initial estimated cost of the new hospital was $120,000. In June of 1938 the city had received a $54,000 grant from the PWA to be used for the project. In July a $66,000 bond issue was passed by Clarinda voters by a margin of 1,817 to 115.

  Over the course of the next several months as the result of design changes and unforeseen factors, the cost figure rose, first to $140,000 and finally to $153,000 by the time the work was finished.

  For the location, two city blocks in the southwest part of town, between 17th and 18th streets, and Division and Orange streets, was selected. The land was purchased for $2,750. Construction began in August of 1938 and the cornerstone was laid in February of 1939.

  The inaugural members of the professional medical staff for the hospital were J.F. Bening, E.N. Bossingham, F.K. Burnett, F.H. Clark, C.H. Collier, F.S. Frenkel, George Herron, Anna Herren, D.H. Killingsworth, R.J. Mathews, C.C. Parriott, C.F. Richey, J.W. Sellards and W.W. West.

  The hospital began service to patients shortly after the opening. The first birth was recorded on Sept. 14.

Muller said she was informed of a report on an obstetrics case from 1939 that provided a glimpse of health care costs in that era.

  “For a 10-day hospital stay, and the birth, the cost was $38,” she said.

  The other two panels Muller displayed, covering the years 1940 to 1970, and 1970 to 2000, showed examples of the progress the hospital made in those decades to expand services in order to meet the health care needs of people in Clarinda and surrounding areas.

  “There were several additions to the physical building through the years,” she said. A large section was added on the south in the mid-1960s. Interior remodeling was done in the 1980s and 1990s.

  Personnel changes have included new physicians and other professionals who offer expertise in specific medical areas.

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