Hospital community looks back on 100 years of care

SALEM – Exactly 100 years ago, on Sept. 13, 1913, a group of doctors and community members gathered to celebrate the beginning of Salem City Hospital’s commitment of caring, serving and healing.

On Friday, doctors and staff members from that same institution, now known as Salem Community Hospital, gathered again with members of the community to mark the hospital’s centennial celebration and a continuing tradition of caring.

“If you were to talk to the hundreds of thousands of people who have played a role in creating Salem Community Hospital’s rich history, you would hear thousands of different stories about how the hospital has touched the lives of the people in our communities,” SCH Interim President/CEO Anita Hackstedde, M.D. said.

About 160 invited guests attended the SCH 100th Anniversary Founders’ Day Breakfast at the Salem Community Center, where they received a commemorative ornament, a copy of the fall edition of the hospital newsletter Choices featuring a look at the hospital’s past and future and the commemorative program. A slideshow of historical photographs ran continuously during breakfast.

A display that appeared 3-D-like featured a timeline of photographs and milestones in the hospital’s history, accompanied by a backdrop of the hospital’s future, the new patient bed tower slated to open in January. The hospital will celebrate again at that time with a dedication and the burial of a time capsule.

Hackstedde said the hospital is now entering the next phase of the journey, with the story of SCH continuing into the next century and the expansion of services with the opening of the new patient bed tower offering 87 private rooms.

In her speech, she said the hospital’s story began with the vision of 14 dedicated physicians who came up with the idea for a community medical facility to serve the area. The story was then written by those members of the community who supported their vision and raised the funds necessary to lay the foundation for what exists today.

“Beyond our bricks and mortar, our chapters came to life through the hands and hearts of countless staff, physicians, volunteers and board members, who devoted their time and talents on behalf of generations of our patients,” she said.

She reflected on the lives touched, from the children born at the hospital to the medical personnel and staff members who worked there and the patients who relied on them for comfort and healing.

Derek Hiscox, chair of the SCH Board of Directors, welcomed everyone and did the introductions, recognizing fellow board members, medical staff members, SCH Charitable Foundation members, representatives of hospital volunteer organizations and the senior leadership team and department heads.

He introduced SCH Chaplain Pastor Bob Rowley, who offered a blessing.

Jon Rettig Sr., chair of the SCH Charitable Foundation, spoke briefly about the foundation’s mission to raise funds to help the hospital remain an independent, locally managed community hospital. He then talked about the movie, “The Bucket List,” about two guys trying to cross off everything they wanted to do on their lists, and how he was able to cross off two major items from his own personal list.

He said the first happened Tuesday, when the Pittsburgh Pirates guaranteed themselves a winning season. The second was about to happen: to be able to introduce a Big 10 legend.

Rettig introduced former Salem High School and Ohio State head football coach Earle Bruce, who served as the featured speaker.

“This is a place I dearly love,” Bruce said of Salem.

He shared three experiences he had with Salem Community Hospital during the four years he lived here while serving as coach from 1956-1959.

The first was when the team physician told him in 1957 that they needed to get flu shots for the team because there was going to be a flu epidemic in Ohio that fall. They got the flu shots and the epidemic hit. The flu caused East Palestine to cancel their game with Salem. East Palestine had beaten Salem the year before 41-6. The game was reset for the Tuesday after the season and Salem won this time by the same score, 41-6. They had beat Leetonia the Friday before by a score of 27-0, then they played a team with a 28-0 unbeaten record the following Friday and beat them, too. Three games over a span of eight days, all won by Salem.

The second experience was when one of the team members contracted a staph infection. The health department came in and the hospital was involved and they ended up with two kids hospitalized. They were told if a third kid came down with it, their season was over. They managed to scrub the place down and went on to a successful season. He said the hospital was part of that.

The third experience was the birth of his first child, a moment he won’t soon forget.

Bruce said the hospital meant a lot to him.

After the breakfast, a staff celebration was taking place at the hospital where staff members were wearing their 100th anniversary commemorative T-shirts.

Hackstedde said it’s “our way to thank everybody.”