Although the hospital first opened its doors in 1939, its story starts a little earlier. And it starts with a devastating tragedy.
In 1926, a tornado with wind speeds exceeding 200 miles per hour decimated La Plata, leaving 17 dead in its wake.
“That is when the Charles County people began talking of the real need for a hospital,” Paul D. Brown, the first Chair of the hospital Board of Trustees, said.
Charles County Comes Together for a Hospital
As a result, the General Assembly gave the county a goal: raise $10,000 and they could acquire the bonds needed to fund the hospital. The residents of Charles County banded together and exceeded the goal by $2,000. Today, adjusted for inflation, that extra amount would be over $36,000.
Thanks to this remarkable fundraising effort, Physicians Memorial Hospital opened its doors in 1939. From its first days, the hospital was committed to the equality of care, pledging that all patients would be treated equally, regardless of race, creed or political affiliation and would be served well.
Have you ever wondered why it was called “Physicians Memorial Hospital”? The name was selected by the Building Committee as a tribute to all the doctors in the county who spent years serving the residents of Charles County without a proper hospital. Here’s what the original dedication read:
“To the memory of those physicians of Charles County who ministered to suffering humanity without the facilities of a local hospital, this building, constructed through the generosity of an appreciative people, is gratefully dedicated.”
By 1946, the population of Charles County was growing rapidly. The hospital provided a massive improvement for medical care in the region; however, the growing population put pressure on its limited bed space and manpower.
At least it kept its services affordable! Here’s how much you could expect to pay for a visit:
- Room and board at the hospital cost $4.50 a night
- Emergency room charges ranged from $1 to $2
- Tonsillectomies were $25
- Appendectomies were just $50
But even if a patient couldn’t pay for medical service, Physicians Memorial Hospital accepted everything from a young pig, a bushel of crabs, and even a quarter-of-beef (100 pounds) in return.
Stay tuned to our blog for upcoming stories about our hospital over the decades. And be sure to follow us on Facebook — we’ll be sharing facts and photos from over the past eight decades throughout 2019.