Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Town Has a Hospital!

(If you haven't read the previous post, please do so before reading this one.)
 The Haskins Estate
1. main house  2. caretaker's house  3. shed  4. water supply tank  5/6. swimming pools  7/8. barn and chicken coops          9. stone mounds  (photo courtesy of Dick Heberle) 

In 1905, the town of Rockport accepted Leander Haskins' bequest of his estate but funding specific to the equipping and function of the Leander M. Haskins Hospital was not made available within the town budget.  From 1905 until the hospital’s final days, all major financing came through private donations.  As a result of those donations the Leander M. Haskins Hospital Trust Fund was established.  Other funding came with the formation of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Leander M. Haskins Hospital.  This benevolent organization held large fairs on the hospital grounds featuring games, a restaurant tent, bake sales, contests and performances by local musicians in order to raise money to support the hospital.  Also, for several years, a major theatrical production was staged on the former estate with ticket sales benefiting the hospital.  These monies were held in trust as the Ladies Auxiliary of the Leander M. Haskins Hospital Trust Fund.
Restaurant tent at an Auxiliary Fair (photo courtesy of SBHS)
Another Fair scene (photo courtesy of SBHS)

The following are taken from two annual reports of the Trustees of Leander M. Haskins Hospital, 1905 and 1906:

"Difficulties having been encountered in obtaining possession of the premises from the Executor of the will...Your Trustees found the premises stripped of everything movable, the electric fixtures taken out, the mantels removed leaving the walls disfigured, even the locks on the doors, outer and communicating, tampered with and a large number of them filled with nails, the whole place being left in a very much upset condition, necessitating the expenditure of considerable money before it could take even the semblance of that for which it was devised."
"Your Board of Trustees are of the opinion that it was hardly a fair proposition on the part of the town to put them in charge of a set of buildings having not the slightest resemblance to a hospital, denuded of everything movable and expect us to convert them to the required uses, fully furnished, supplied with medical appliances and instruments of all kinds, without once appealing to them to contribute to its expense.  Perhaps we are somewhat mistaken in our position; perhaps it is that the town only wished us to undertake the necessary changes and repairs to the buildings to establish a hospital and then come to them for the funds which had been expended for the purpose; however that may be, we undertook the work of establishing the hospital, of supplying it with all needful articles, furniture, medical instruments, etc., and then filling it with a staff of physicians and nurses who are a credit to any institution; in fact we undertook to create a thoroughly equipped up-to-date establishment without, if at all possible, asking the town in its corporate capacity to contribute one dollar for its support."
Leander M. Haskins Hospital (photo courtesy of SBHS)
One of the parlors/reception rooms (photo courtesy of Dick Heberle)
A hospital room (photo courtesy of SBHS)
 The hospital, under the direction of Drs. Hall and Baker, served the varied medical needs of the community and saved patients the long and often painful journey to Gloucester for emergency and hospital care.  In addition to an urgent care facility for the town, the Haskins Hospital was vital in providing treatment during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918.  Having closed its doors early in 1918 due to a lack of adequate funding to meet ever growing expenses, the hospital was quickly reopened to serve the stricken citizens of Rockport.  So great was the need for care in this community at that time, the Massachusetts National Guard was called to assist the doctors and nurses of Haskins Hospital.
During the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 (photo courtesy of SBHS)
After the flu epidemic the town, once again, closed the hospital doors and it stood unused until 1932 when the town leased the facility to Dr. Clement K. Heberle.  

Watch for my next post about the Heberle years.

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