Kimball's Hospital: The Early Days
Modern Hospital Opened With 'Good Share Of Patients' From Car Wrecks
March 25, 2021
Editor's note: Kimball Health Services has completed a feasibility study for a new hospital. But this article is about the early days of old Kimball County Hospital as reported in the Western Nebraska Observer from August to November 1950.
On Aug. 21, 1950, the "modern, new" Kimball County Hospital opened for business with beds and furnishing borrowed from St. Mary's Hospital in Scottsbluff, according to the Aug. 24 edition of the Western Nebraska Observer. Almost immediately, patients began arriving, and within 48 hours, the hospital had eight patients, and two babies were born.
Dedication of the hospital didn't happen immediately as the hospital board waited for the furnishing to arrive. The hospital would turn out to operate on borrowed beds and bassets for almost four months.
The original hospital had rooms for 22 adult patients, three in the pediatric ward and eight cribs in the maternity ward. The cost for the hospital construction and equipment was $223,000.
Articles in the Observer explained the methods of funding for the new hospital, which ranged from federal to local money. Using a federal aid program, the Observer reported that "The county provided two-thirds of the cost of construction and furnishing through the sale of hospital bonds, and one-third in matching funds was provided by the federal government."
The hospital was touted as one of the most modern area hospitals with the operating room with the "most modern equipment available and is at the northwest end of the building." It was reported that the maternity ward was at the south end of the hospital, and that "it has a modern delivery room, labor room, large nursery, and formula room." The rooms were described as "large with plenty of light and private baths."
With its power plant, the hospital could operate during an emergency.
By the end of the first month of operation, the hospital had seen 79 patients admitted and eight babies born. The Sept. 21, 1950 edition of the Observer stated at the end of the first month, "The hospital was cleared of auto accident victims for the first time since it opened. Auto accidents provided a good share of the patients during the first month of operation."
Finally, on Nov. 5, 1950, the hospital was dedicated. It was a massive event in Kimball, with over 600 people in attendance. Congressmen A.L. Miller was the speaker for the ceremony. Miller had been a physician in Kimball in 1919. Guests included "Dr. P. C. Mockett, who came to Kimball to practice medicine in 1901, as well as more recent and local physicians Dr. A. H. Shamberg and Dr. Edwin R. Core.
As for the dedication, the Observer reported this: "Mrs. Henri Musolf, hospital superintendent, introduced the members of the staff. They include Anna Margret Peterson, Jessie Warner, LaVon Van Cleve, Lorraine Moul and Ruth Lutey, nurses; Josephine Cherry, technician; Anna O'Hare, in charge of sterile supply, Neva Jackson and Billie Jean Raper, nurses' aids; Kenneth Bushor, maintenance; Mrs. Catherine Buddecke, laundry; Harry Wilson, janitor, and Margaret Hoskins and Audrey Logan, cooks."
The Kimball County Hospital has seen change and two renovations over the past 70 years, one in 1983 and another in 2002, according to Kerry Ferguson of KHS and the Kimball Hospital Foundation. In 1983, an addition included improvements to the laboratory, physical therapy department, heating and air conditioning systems and a computer room.
According to Ferguson, "A second renovation and expansion was completed in May of 2002. The project renovated the existing hospital and added two new wings onto the west side. The rural health clinic relocated from downtown to its current space at the hospital. Also included in the renovation were a new trauma room, a new nursing unit, hospice room, outpatient treatment and recovery area, a renovated physical therapy department, and improvements to technological infrastructure.
The KHS North Campus (former West Elementary School) was purchased in 2013. The decommissioned school was partially renovated and is the location of the hospital kitchen, foundation, finance office, health information and patient accounting departments. The building also is the location for the Kimball Community Food Pantry and has meeting space that is utilized by the general public."