Friday, December 9, 2011

Part 1 of 2: Band Aids, Babies and History

 This week's post is split into two parts. I hope you will humor me as I recount a bit of history this week and tell the "rest of the story" next week....

I enjoy writing Christmas letters. I try not to brag too much about my perfect husband (yes he does the cooking and grocery shopping), my exceedingly good looking and talented children (yes Aaron is so good at math that he started balancing my checkbook, Lizzie is so social she can make friends with a lamppost and Josh is talking so much he nearly gave the sermon at church last Sunday), but…well, you can tell that putting a limit on my boastfulness is a bit of a challenge.

In all the letters I’ve written over the last 10 years, I usually spare a sentence or two for my job to let my friends and family who couldn’t believe I majored in Political Science know that I am gainfully employed. I doubt I will write a Christmas letter this year, but if I did I think I would write this about my job:
I work at Community Hospital-Fairfax (CH-F.) It is an 18 bed critical access hospital located in Fairfax, MO. CH-F was established in 1949 by a group of community members that sold $100 shares to their friends and neighbors to establish a hospital.

November 29, 1946 Fairfax Forum announcement on front page: local group seeking $110,000 to build a hospital in Fairfax. Shares will sell for $110 a share. Volunteers canvas city and county asking for subscribers and promising 8% return. Subscribers are asked not to consider just financial gains, but to consider it an investment in the health of the county. A meeting is held at the school on November 29 where $83,600 was raised.

By December 13, 112,530 had been raised. Article reads “so popular was the idea of building hospital in Fairfax, that many subscribers invited solicitors to call back if more money was needed. Petty differences were forgotten and all worked for the success of the drive.” By December 20, more than $115,000 was raised. By Dec. 27, an attorney was hired, articles of incorporation and bylaws were drafted.

Petty differences were put aside...pretty cool, huh?

November 7, 1949, Fairfax Forum: Fairfax Community Hospital, a 34 bed facility, opened for service November 7.  Some twenty-five persons and organizations furnished rooms with donations.  Three thousand people attended the Open House. 

The good times rolled at CH-F. 900 babies were born by the 5 year anniversary, Dr. Bare, Dr. Carpenter, Dr. Humphrey, Dr. Neidermeyer and Dr. Wanamaker were mainstays on the medical staff and in 1964 the hospital announced that it was entirely debt free despite several major additions since its opening in 1949.

In 1970, changes in the way that healthcare payments were made quickly changed the financial situation at the hospital. An emergency plea was made and residents of the local community pulled funds together to raise $123,000 in a few weeks. The January of 1971 addition of the Fairfax Forum details a community meeting:

 “President Ralph Hackett called the meeting to order. Days of strain and weeks of sleepless nights showed in his face, as he took the floor to give an account of the situation…..He frankly stated that the institution could not continue operation unless money was raised to pay outstanding bills and retire part of the indebtedness against the new addition opened in Sept. 1969…..His voice cracked as he related how one widow woman came to him following the meeting and said she wanted no pay for the month, she was willing to contributed that. Her job is her only means of support. Others have expressed similar intentions”

So strongly did the community feel about saving the hospital that the Fairfax Forum actually ran a front page article threatening to print the names of the people who owed the hospital money on the front page! The community again rose to the occasion raising the funds to keep the hospital operating and by the late 70s early 80s another addition was completed for the hospital and Dr. James Hunter joined the Medical Staff.

In the 1984 35th Anniversary Edition of the Fairfax Forum, Dr. Neidermeyer is quoted as remembering “One of my most vivid memories of an emergency situation caused by the rupture of a pregnant patient’s uterus. This rarely happens and is frequently fatal to mother and child. In this instance, we did an immediate emergency Caesarean Section, and saved both mother and child. In 35 years of serving people in Northwest Missouri, I’ve been increasingly aware of the subtle differences that can influence health or sickness and even life and death.

Stay tuned for next week.......I know you are on the edge of your seat!

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