Monadnock Community Hospital’s time of expansion: 1950 to 1970

By MELISSA FRENCH

For the Ledger-Transcript

Published: 05-22-2023 9:00 AM

Third of a series of articles leading up to Monadnock Community Hospital’s 100th anniversary celebration June 3. See Part 1 and Part 2.

The early years of the hospital saw significant advances in the science of anesthesia, from the introduction of anesthesia machines in the 1930s to new, safer anesthetic drugs, devices that made intubation safer and more effective and the introduction of the first intravenous anesthetics.  

In the 1950s, Dr. Albert Chandler performed house calls, which equaled his time spent in office appointments. He charged $2 per office visit ($24.29 adjusted rate today) or $3 per house call ($36.43 adjusted.) 

Early on, the hospital was made to look as much like a cheerful home as possible, with a small kitchen on each floor. The rooms had fireplaces and carpets for comfort. The reception room had comfortable seating and often had fresh flowers. The old reception room is now the library and looks much the same.  

During the 1960s, the average cost per patient day was $41.58 ($397.67 adjusted) at short-term, general and special hospitals and $38.84 ($371.46 adjusted) at MCH. Rapid population growth in the Monadnock region led to a hospital census at 100 percent, and there was a shortage of patient rooms available.

A fundraising campaign for a major million-dollar expansion began in 1963.The average contribution was $940 ($8,990.08 adjusted) from doctors, $320 ($3,060.45 adjusted) from small businesses, $97 ($927.70 adjusted) from local families and $75 ($717.29 adjusted) from employees. On March 23, 1965, groundbreaking ceremonies were held. The addition increased capacity to 75 beds from the 1949 expansion that left MCH with 55 beds. 

At the close of the fundraising campaign Dr. George Stewart said: “We are aware not only of the out-poured generosity of the living givers but, at the same time, are reminded also of the superb people who have befriended this institution in years that are gone and who have left us as grateful legatees some portion of their spirit. Over and above that material resources given by such citizens is the sense of trusteeship, the responsibility for the common good, the traits of character they have bestowed to help build in the community its distinguishing character as a worthy region. For all of these we are truly grateful.” 

In the 1960s the Hospital Auxiliary supplied 5-inch television sets that could be rolled into patient rooms on a cart for $1 a day ($9.89 adjusted). In 1964, the New Hampshire Philharmonic Orchestra began playing a benefit for the hospital each year.

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In 1968, a Chrysanthemum Ball was first held as a fundraiser. It was the first black-tie gala raising funds for MCH. The attendance fee was $10 per person ($84.10 adjusted).

In 1973, the Golden Anniversary Ball celebrated the hospital’s 50th anniversary.  

Monadnock Community Hospital is a 25-bed critical access hospital offering primary care, medical and surgical care, obstetrics, pediatrics and behavioral health services. In addition, outpatient services are available, including a primary care network, orthopaedics, cardiology, cardiac and physical rehabilitation services, 24-hour emergency care, oncology, occupational health, a fully equipped laboratory and a radiology department. 

Melissa French is the marketing specialist for Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough.

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