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“The Growth of Lake County Oregon by Georgie Stephenson is a valuable source of information on the development of hospital facilities in Lakeview.

Dr. and Mrs. G. Irving Russell constructed the first hospital in 1913. It was located on F and South Sixth Streets and was labeled “Lakeview General Hospital”. It had a bed capacity for twelve patients and was attended by two trained nurses. No other hospital was maintained between Reno on the south, The Dalles on the north, Klamath Falls on the west and Idaho on the east. After a brief period of operation, Dr. Russell died. Dr.’s Ballard and Oftendal purchased the property from Mrs. Lucy Russell.

A movement was next started to develop a new larger hospital in 1919. Reference to this program can be found in the April 24, 1919 edition of the Lake County Examiner. It was believed that this new hospital with twelve private rooms, office, kitchen, operating room, two baths, living and dining rooms could be constructed for $10,00. In 1919 a 70′ by 180′ lot was purchased for $1,800 and floor plans were developed by Mr. Kerr of Alturas. Construction of a stone building 34′ by 108′ was awarded to A.G. McComb of Lakeview with a bid of $13,864. This building is now the site of the Lakeview Senior Center on the corner of Center and G Streets. Engraved on the cornerstone are the words “Lakeview Public Hospital 1920.” The cost of the building was covered by multiple private donations and social events such as ice cream socials.

It was decided that the Catholic Sisters of Charity would manage the new hospital. Title was made in the name of St. Patrick’s Catholic Parish, Father Thomas J. Brady. In 1932 the deed was signed transferring ownership to the Knights of Columbus. The management of the property was turned over to a group of local doctors in 1935. They believed it was in their best interest to come together and work in a common hospital. Dr.’s Penn Wilbur, H.E. Kelty and William Chisholm formed Lakeview Hospital, Inc., and established a plan of stock purchase. Dr.’s Charles Leithead, Everett and Joycelin Roberts soon followed. Registered nurses Mary Moon and Mable McDonald managed the hospital.

Dr. Leithead retired in 1946 and Dr. Paul Kliewer acquired his stock. In 1947 Dr. Jim Wilbur joined the group for a short time but left in 1948. Dr. Kelty retired in 1948 and Dr. William Strieby acquired his stock. In 1949 Dr. Louis Robertson returned to Lakeview, his hometown, to establish his medical practice with his office in the basement or lower floor of the hospital. The hospital was well managed by the two nurses. Mary Moon retired in 1950, and Mable McDonald continued to manage the hospital.

In 1965 the physicians all agreed that our 17-bed hospital was not adequate enough for the community. A 17-member committee was appointed to evaluate the need for a new hospital. The committee worked for several months on the planning aspect of the construction of the new hospital. It was completed in 1970 using federal Hill Burton funds. This hospital, located at 700 South J Street, was to provide 24 beds for acute care and 24 beds in the nursing home; it was later changed to 21 and 47 beds, respectively. The old hospital remained empty until 1973 when the commissioners agreed to purchase the building with the intent of using federal funds to completely remodel it. The physician owners agreed to sell the building at a reduced price with the understanding that it would be used as a senior citizens’ center. The building was completely remodeled from top to bottom and was also enlarged to accommodate the enlarged kitchen facility on the north and a sun-room on the south. The county was supporting the center to the extent of $25,000 a year.

Construction of the new hospital, named Lake District Hospital, was completed in 1970. Initial staff physicians included Dr. Penn Wilbur, Dr. Paul Kliewer, Dr. L.C. Robertson, Dr. William J. Strieby and Dr. Connie Robertson.

Acute trauma cases are evaluated and, if local care can be provided, the necessary care is carried out. If specialist attention is indicated, the patient is transported by air or ground ambulance.

The Hospital Auxiliary has been very supportive in donating time to patient care and money for multiple hospital and nursing home needs.

The hospital is tax supported by a taxing district that encompasses the southern half of Lake County. North Lake County, north of Picture Rock Pass, is not included in the tax district because they are closer to Bend and a health facility is maintained in Christmas Valley. The Lake Health District Board of Directors consists of five members who are elected on a rotation system. The board hires the administrator.

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Public hospital service began in Lakeview in 1913. Dr. and Mrs. J. Irving Russell occupied the Henry Newell property on West Street near Bullard Street. They recognized the need for a hospital in the community and set about providing hospital service.

Work has commenced Monday of this week on a large addition to the Henry Newell property on West Street, occupied by Dr. and Mrs. J. Irving Russell, which will be used for hospital purposes. The work is in charge of I.A. Underwood and it will be ready for use by September 15.

The institution will be known as the Lakeview General Hospital and while it will be under the supervision of Dr. and Mrs. Russell, the latter of whom is a graduate nurse, it will be open to the other physicians of Lakeview should they desire its use for their patients. It will be constructed to amply care for twelve patients at one time, and trained nurses will be provided for their care. The apartments will be furnished throughout with hospital furniture and a modernity equipped surgery will be installed. The rooms will be plastered and all the interior finished in white.

“This property is considered a good location for the purpose, as while it is near the center of the town, it is far enough out to insure quiet and rest for patrons(1).”The building was not completed on schedule, but the new hospital opened two months later.

“The Lakeview Hospital, on the Henry Newell property on West Street near Bullard, was this week opened to the public, all the furniture and equipment now being installed(2).”

Doctors Ballard and Oftedal have purchased the Lakeview Hospital from Mrs. Jessie M. Russell, Administrator of the estate of Dr. John I. Russell, deceased, and it is their intention to maintain the high standard set by the former owners.

Trained nurses will be in attendance at all times and the equipment of the hospital will be added to in order to provide ever modern aid for the proper care of the sick and injured.

No other hospital is maintained from Reno on the south to The Dalles on the north and from Klamath Falls on the west to Idaho on the east, so that the need of a properly equipped hospital plant has been a long felt one in Lakeview and the tributary country. In every respect but size the Lakeview hospital is the equal of any and merits the hearty and unqualified support of the community.

The new owners are both experienced in the management of hospitals, having served as interns in large hospitals in the East and managed such institutions for various companies in the West.

Hearty support has been accorded the hospital since the change in ownership and it is filled to capacity at present with a waiting list in addition.

“Miss M. Miller, a graduate of St. Francis Training School for Nurses, San Francisco, and Miss Elizabeth McCully, a graduate of the Massachusetts Homeopathic Hospital of Boston, Mass., are in charge of the nursing(3).”

The Lakeview Public Hospital had its beginning in 1919 when Dr. E.H. Smith, County Judge and President of the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, appointed a committee composed of Dick J. Wilcox and attorneys R.F.A. Boche and S.A. Jetmore to consider the feasibility of constructing a hospital. The first reference to this committee found in the Examiner files was April 24, 1919, when the committee reported at a Chamber of Commerce meeting “last night in the courthouse.” The committee reported that a hospital of 12 private rooms, office, kitchen, operation room, two baths, sterilizing room, a living dining-lecture room and partial basement could be constructed for $10,00, not including furnished hardware, machinery for laundry and electric chandeliers, or, for $11,000 a steam plant for heating was included. The vote was unanimous to start a subscription drive.

The Examiner of May 22, 1919, the hospital committee (Wilcox, chairman, Dan F. Brennan, secretary-treasurer; Sam Jetmore) report it was proposing a hospital to cost $10,000 for construction on a site yet to be determined, and when completed to be owned, operated and maintained by the Sisters of Charity as soon as practicable, and if there is delay in the Sisters taking over, to be leased to a responsible person.

The paper of June 26, 1919, reported adoption of articles of incorporation with Dick J. Wilcox as president, P.F.A. Boche, secretary, and Vincent L. Snelling, treasurer. Already $6,110 has been raised in subscriptions.

July 31, 1919- A 70 by 180 foot lot immediately west of the Catholic Church has been bought from Mrs. W. Z. Moss for $1800, and floor plans made by M.L. KERR of Alturas have been accepted. The building will be 34×108 feet in size with a full basement, and construction will start within three weeks.

July 31, 1919- On Saturday last a contract with A.G.McComb of Lakeview to construct the hospital of stone, on a bid of $13,864 (not including the furnishings) to be completed this fall.There will be 12 private rooms, two bathrooms, (each having hot and cold water) and the hospital would have its own sewage system, (Lakeview not presently having a system for sewage disposal)(4). This article mentioned that a local hospital had been urged for the past ten years, but the importance of such a facility became urgent after the flu scourge of last fall and winter. The hospital was not completed that fall. Construction work and money raising went on through the fall, winter, and spring.

March 12, 1920- The hospital officers reported that $12,698 has been spent and $6,000 more is needed to complete the building. Of the money spent, $8,040.27 has been from donations and $4,658 has been borrowed.

March 25, 1920- Statement by the Board of Managers: The Lakeview Public Hospital, pending arrival of the Sisters of Charity, will be administered by the board of managers. On acceptance of the hospital by the Sisters, a deed will be given.

Money will be raised by dances, entertainments, teas, ice cream and cake socials.

April 22, 1920- The teas are successful; last Saturday one of the most successful raised $43.75.

May 13, 1920- The teas have helped immeasurably, but will be discontinued temporarily in view of crowded upcoming events, including the Chautauqua.

June 10, 1920- The children plan an ice cream social on the courthouse lawn to raise $250 to pay for the Mayo Clinic operation room table (the retail price of the table was $465, but Father Thomas J. Brady has received a reduced price from the dealer). The children are also operating a concession at the Chautauqua.

July 8, 1920- The hospital is still in need of funds to be ready by September. Several ladies are planning ice cream and cake socials. Last Friday, an entertainment at the new school on Westside (Union) raised $91 toward the $108 cost of the sterilizer. Mrs. Charles Buck, took a collection to equip a hospital room and raised $200, a surplus of $30.

July 15, 1920- An ice cream social will be held July 24 to raise money toward the $2,000 cost of the furnace.

July 22, 1920- On July 30 a dance will be given to finance the flooring in the operation and sterilizing rooms. Details next week. (Several reports ended with the statement “Details next week,” but they never were reported.)

September 16, 1920- D.J. Wilcox re-elected president, A.D. Hay elected to the board to fill the vacancy of P.F.A. Buche who died, J.C. Flynn elected to the Board to succeed V.L. Snelling.

October 28, 1920- Charles Eccleston’s mules ran away and he was treated at the new hospital by Dr. Leithead. Mrs. C.H. Buck underwent surgery “at the Sisters Hospital.”

November 4, 1920- audit by W.V. Miller and Dan F. Brennan, highly complimentary of the cost records kept by President Wilcox: donations, $9,319.42; ice cream, cake, dances and other socials, $3,056.89; borrowed from institutions and individuals, $6,751.58; total receipts $19,127.89. Paid to workmen (not including cellar and other extras), $1,733.94, cost of the site, $1,800; equipment and room furnishings, $1,233.06; filing incorporation papers, $5. Total disbursements, $19,004.25. Balance on hand $123.64.

Sometime in October, 1920, Miss Jean Marie Giblin leased the hospital, but soon relinquished her lease as reported by the Examiner.

January 13, 1921- Miss Jean Marie Giblin, who leased the hospital last October, gave up the lease on January 10 of her own volition; the hospital is now leased for three months to Miss Nell Snelling. The board of managers has adopted the following scale of charges; Major operation, $15 (catgut, ether and gloves, extra); minor surgery, $10; tonsil operation, $7.50; room, single bed, $5.00 per day; two-bed room, $3.50 each bed per day; maternity, before confinement, $2.50 per day; after confinement, $6.00 per day(5).

The above charges include nursing, but no special nurse or physician fees.” NOTE: This last quotation is taken from the Examiner direct, not from Shaw’s article”.

“Dr. Kelty purchased an x-ray machine in partnership with Dr. Stiles of Alturas. The machine will be in the Lakeview Public Hospital. Dr. Stiles will bring his patients here. It is one of the most powerful x-ray machines to be had”(6).

According to the Examiner of 3.17.1921, Martin Kearnes gave $20,000 to the hospital.

Following her initial lease for three months, Miss Nell Snelling took a leave of absence and the Examiner reported, Nell has leased the hospital for one year and will open on the 22nd to the public. She will be in full control as of August 23, 1921, and “Lakeview Public Hospital reopened Monday under management of Misses Nell Snelling and Nellie Parker.”

“Authorized rates at Lakeview Public Hospital: single room per day, $5.50; 20 bed room per day, $1.00; maternity cases, $5.50 before confinement, $2.50; board and lodging for special nurse, per day $1.50; use of operating room, for major operations (supplies for operation extra) $15.00; for minor operation, $10.00; for tonsil operation, allowing 24 hours use of room following operation, $10.00″(7).

Then competition entered into the picture. “Hunter Hot Springs Sanitarium open.” The Hunter Hot Springs Sanitarium was under management for Dr. H.E. Kelty(8).

On Tuesday, January 11, within 10 hours there were six babies born at the hospital. Within the 24-hour period, there were seven babies. That would be a big story in far more populous counties than Lake.

Prices increased over the years. “The Lakeview Public Hospital under management of Miss Nellie Snelling. Private Rooms- $6.00 per day. Maternity cases- $6.00 per day Registered Nurses- Best of Care”(9).

Leslie Shaw states in the above mentioned article that: Local doctors have owned Lakeview Public Hospital since January 1, 1935 when Dr. Wilbur, Dr. H.E. Kelty, Dr. E.R. Everett, Dr. Charles E. Leithead and Dr. William Chisholm first took over its operation, stating that, in view of the fact that previous arrangements had not permitted improvement and proper operation of the hospital, they would operate on a non-profit basis and improve the hospital as rapidly as possible as conditions would permit.

In 1936, Dr. Wilbur and Dr. Chisholm formed Lakeview Hospital, Incorporated. Then Dr. Leithead and Dr. Everett joined and soon Dr. Joycelin Robertson. In 1941, Dr. Chisholm went to serve in WORLD WAR II; Dr. Leithead curtailed his practice; Dr. Robertson was raising a family, Dr. Everett died in 1942. Dr. Paul Kliewer arrived in 1946; Dr. Wm. Strieby arrived 1947-48; Dr. Louis Robertson arrived in the 1950s. Dr. Cornelia Robertson arrived.

In January, 1949, Mrs. Mary Boon was superintendent of the Lakeview Hospital

1- YGB(Years Gone By) 8.21.1913 (in Examiner 8.22.1962.)
2- YGB 11.13.1914.
3- YGB 10.15.1914.
4- YGB 2.24.1921.
5- Ibid.
6- Ibid.
7- YGB 4.23.1925.
8- Examiner June 1926.
9- YGB 1.20.1929.