Olney Hamilton Hospital ~ History ~ 1908 to present...
- By Anita Palmer with the collaboration of Glenn &
- Published by The Hamilton Hospital Foundation
- The township of Olney, established in 1889, was
dependent on midwives or the physicians in Archer City or Graham to
- meet the
medical needs of the community for nearly two decades.
Finally, in 1907 a physician, Dr. Joe Daniels, a Fort
University Medical School graduate, set up his medical practice in Olney.
The next year Dr. George B. Hamilton,
- a former classmate of Dr.
Daniels, joined the medical staff of this small community. Dr. H. C. McKinney, another graduate
- of that medical school
in Ft. Worth, which later became Baylor University Medical School, came to
Olney in 1912.
capable doctors, this budding community became known as the place to go for
exceptional medical care.
When doctors made house calls, these little black
bags contained their medical supplies.
An example of the items typically carried:
Stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, bandages, thermometers (mouth
& rectal), swabs, scalpel, Otoscope for ear exam, fever powder,
ointments, tongue depressors, Iodine, and after 1935 penicillin.
Hamilton was a man with diverse skills:
accomplished blacksmith, scholarly physician and surgeon, astute
businessman, and innovative entrepreneur. His vision of a better medical
facility in Olney resulted in him purchasing a frame building at the corner
of South Avenue F and Cherry Street in 1908. Six
years later, in 1914, Dr. Hamilton built a frame two-story structure on West
Main Street, where the First National Bank is today.
Half-dozen years again brought such growth in the number of hospital
patients, that he added ten additional rooms to that building.
Original Hamilton Hospital
In 1908, Dr. George B. Hamilton established Hamilton
Hospital in this frame building known as the Cathey House
- Dr. Hamilton, a mover and shaker, wanted only
the best for his community. In
1927, he built a two story brick building at the hospitals present
location on West Hamilton Street (West Third then).
It was one of the most modern and best-equipped hospitals west of
Fort Worth. The patients
listened, with earphones, to piped in music and radio---a real innovation in
1927! This hospital had 17 patient rooms, surgery suite, delivery
room, nursery, x-ray room, emergency room, kitchen, dining
- room, a dumb
waiter, and nurses quarters. Unfortunately,
Dr. Hamilton only got to enjoy this new up-to-date hospital a short time.
In 1933, Dr. Hamilton died at 55 years of age.
His beloved Olney was remembered generously in his will.
- his properties, Hamilton Hospital and Morris Hotel (Olney City
Hall today), were bequeathed to the city of Olney.
- Yes, there were nurses quarters in the third
Hamilton Hospital. Part
of the nurses salary included room and board.
The single ones lived at the hospital.
In the early years, they lived inside the hospital, and then a small
house was moved in behind the hospital (where the laundry is now). Even living on the grounds, nurses had little free-time. Back
in the old days nurses did all the cleaning of the rooms.
That meant cleaning walls, woodwork, and floors with a disinfectant.
There were no antibiotics at that time, so hospitals had to be much
more careful with their sanitation. Even
mattresses were taken outdoors to be sunned before being put back on the
bed. The room was closed with
the door taped, and a formaldehyde candle fumigated the room.
It was thought, at that time, that it would kill germs.
The nurses in their starched white uniforms, caps certainly earned
1951 Addition to Hamilton Hospital
A $90,000 bond issue added twenty-two
(22) patient rooms and a $10,000 push button elevator to the brick
twenty-six (26) bed hospital built in 1927 by Dr. George B. Hamilton
with his personal funds. He
gave his hospital to the city of Olney upon his death in 1933.
- The hospital continued to grow with the local
and area demand for the competent care received at Hamilton Hospital.
In 1936, Miss Nancy McChresey, a local patron, gave the money to
install a new laboratory. After World War II, in 1945, a remodeled army barracks became
a hospital annex containing ten beds. Then,
in 1951, the city voted a $90,000 bond issue to build a new addition to the
front of the hospital; this was the first time tax money was used to fund
Hamilton Hospital improvements.
added twenty-two beds
increasing the capacity to fifty-eight beds.
The patients continued to crowd into Hamilton Hospital, by 1961 it
was again time to think of expansion; a $350,000 public subscription
campaign with local funds to be matched with a Hill-Burton Grant was
entered. The people of Olney
and surrounding area quickly matched the grant, and the New Hamilton
Hospital was opened November 1, 1964. Even
with the one hundred three (103) bed capacity, this hospital was full in the
1960s and 70s.
- It took many nurses to staff such a large
hospital. To aid with the nursing shortage, a Licensed Vocational Nursing
School was established at the hospital in 1959. The school produced quality
nurses for several years.
George B. Hamilton
School of Licensed Vocational Nursing 1959-1984
In twenty-five (25) years, over six hundred (600+)
licensed vocational nurses graduated from this school.
Pictured is The Dorcas Class, April 1961.
- With the coming of Medicare, and the expansion
of nursing homes, medicine was seen in a whole new light.
The Government was here to stay, sending out new regulations almost
daily. If the hospital does not
comply with government rules, there is the constant threat of closure.
All of this added to the expense of running a hospital.
The number of patients declined, causing the second floor of the
Old hospital to close, and later its first floor also closed.
Government regulations kept coming, but no government funds followed.
The hospital was loosing money!
In 1990, Hamilton Hospital became a taxing authority for Olney and
Newcastle School Districts and the Young County portion of the Megargel
School District. By the mid
1990s Hamilton Hospital was also in the business of establishing Rural
Health Clinics, first in Archer City, and later in Newcastle.
The buildings that house the physicians in Olney were purchased by
the hospital, too. Hamilton
Hospital has seen tough financial times, but has managed to continue quality
healthcare for the community.
- Today, the Old building is in full use.
Physical Therapy is now where the old kitchen was.
Several rooms are used for bookkeeping and administrative offices.
Young County ambulance crew, Hamilton Hospital Auxiliary, and
Hamilton Hospital Foundation all have rooms.
Home Health, a big business that continues to get bigger, is using a
large portion of the building. Every room is used.
Rural Health Clinic
(Formerly Lovett-Meredith Clinic 1935-2002)
Two Olney Clinics are owned and operated by Hamilton
- Much credit for the beautiful and expansion of
the hospital campus can be attributed to the donations of the community.
In September 1962, the auxiliary was formed with 73 charter members.
In 1985, the Donald McClatchy Intensive Care Unit was added,
financed by the Donald McClatchy Foundation, public subscriptions, and
Hamilton Hospital. The Pearl M. Armstrong Estate donation of $100,000 in
1998, laid the groundwork for the Hamilton Hospital Foundation.
For several years Hamilton Hospital has been the recipient of the
Junior Altruistics community project. These groups continue to be much
needed and appreciated aids to the hospital.
- As Dr. Hamilton had so ably instructed, two
physicians and the mayor of Olney governed the Hamilton Hospital for many
years. In 1946, the first
business manager was hired, Grace Dunagan, but it was not until 1960 when
the first administrator, Richard Higgingbotham, was employed.
One of the secrets of this hospitals longevity is the stability of
- and governing board, chaired by Glen Atchley, son-in-law
of Dr. George Hamilton, for over forty years.
For a century now, Hamilton Hospital has continually provided
southern Young County with quality medical care.
This 100 years is an unprecedented longevity for a rural Texas
|Shadowbox depicting 100 years of
||Brands exhibit from the hallway of the hospital
|Telephone history shadow box
Hamilton Hospital hallways.