Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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A HISTORY OF HEALTH CARE FACILITIES IN ALBION

By Frank Passic,

Albion Historian

Research paper, October, 1990, with ADDENDUM February, 2002

This report is an overview of the early history of Albion’s health care environments, focusing mainly upon its historical health care trends, and the facilities which were utilized in meeting the health care needs of the community. While many physicians and nurses made outstanding contributions throughout Albion’s history, this paper focuses only on some of the pioneer doctors whose names appeared prominently in the historical record before Albion’s first hospital was established in 1907.

Health services in Albion during the 19th century were provided by individual physicians without clinic or hospital facilities. Oftentimes doctors would set up offices in their homes, and “made the rounds” throughout the community, visiting the sick and performing services in individual homes. Albion’s first physician was Dr. Calvin Millington, who came from Vermont to “the Forks” in 1834. Millington also served as an Inspector of Common Schools for Albion Township after it was organized on April 1, 1837. Another physician, Dr. David B. Crane, came to Calhoun County in1833 and later established a practice in the Albion area.

Albion’s most prominent and second physician was Dr. Horace May Hovey (1815-1877), who came here in June of 1837 at the age of 22. His home at 127 W. Porter St. contained his front-room office space. Hovey utilized the services of his wife, Caroline (Grosvenor) Hovey (1818-1903), who often prescribed drugs for office patients when the doctor was out making calls with his horse and buggy. Caroline sometimes served as a nurse, and often helped prepare corpses for burial, as there were no established undertakers here in Albion during the 1830s and 1840s. Such were the duties of the physicians.


Dr. Horace May Hovey


Caroline (Grosvenor) Hovey

Dr. Hovey made friends with the native Indians, and they often came to him for medical services. The Indians paid the doctor with food supplies, a welcome payment in the days when such commodities were scarce. For over forty years, Dr. Hovey was an active practitioner of medicine in Albion and a well respected citizen. Some of the charges for his services in the 1870s included: tooth extraction--25 cents; day call--75 cents; night call--$1.50; and amputation of a thumb, finger, or removal of tonsils--$5.00.


Dr. Samuel Tuttle

Another pioneer physician was Dr. Samuel Tuttle (1787-1879), who came to Albion in 1841. He built a home at 211 W. Erie Street and conducted his practice there until moving to California in 1851 as part of the Gold Rush. He took a herd of cattle with him to California and was very successful there as a rancher. Dr. Tuttle returned to Albion in 1856, continuing with his practice of medicine but also entered the drug business. He retired in the early 1860s and sold his drug business to the William Brothers (being a physician during the 19th century was not always a profitable profession, and so many early doctors also had other enterprises on the side to supplement their income).

Another physician who supplemented his practice with other interests was Dr. Campbell Waldo, who came to Albion in 1837. Waldo was active in politics, and served as a state senator from the Michigan 5th District in 1848-49. He also built saw mills in Eaton County, and at Tekonsha. He died in Albion in 1866 at the age of 80.


Dr. Willoughby O'Donoughue

Dr. Willoughby O’Donoughue (1832-1915) arrived in Albion in 1855 and practiced medicine here until the Civil War, when he was appointed as a surgeon in the Michigan Engineers and Mechanics Regiment. Dr. O’Donoughue returned to Albion after the war to resume his profession, but he also engaged in the drug and book business. He later became the president of the First National Bank of Albion and its successor, the Albion National Bank.

Other early Albion physicians, and the years they came to our community, included: James Henderson, 1837; Benjamin Packard, 1845; William H. Johnson, 1850; Frederick Wheelock, 1839; W. Bouthard, 1850; Milton Osborn, 1850; Henry Van Ostrand, 1857; William W. Collins, 1859; E. H. Wilber, 1861; A. R. Brown, 1867; John P. Stoddard, 1867; M. O. Belknap, 1871; Amos Crosby, 1872; A. Sm. Haight, 1874; and E. R. Parmeter, 1877.

Two of Albion’s doctors, David B. Crane and Frederick Wheelock, were charter members of the Calhoun County Medical Society when it was organized in 1839. This society later folded, but it was revived in 1877. Like other medical societies emerging in cities across the country, the Society was formed as a means of maintaining voluntary professional medical standards throughout the country, in order to protect citizens from ignorant and intenerate quacks. It was also formed to increase public trust and esteem for the medical profession (which was at an all-time low).


Dr. Elizabeth Palmer


Dr. Frank E. Palmer

Albion’s first woman physician was Dr. Elizabeth Palmer (1852-1899), a homeopathic who was the wife of Dr. Frank E. Palmer. Palmer began her practice here in 1882 and soon won the esteem and affections of the entire community. She put in long hours in treating the sick, and was known frequently to put in 24-hour work days without sleep. Occasionally she put in as many as 48 non-stop hours in caring for her patients. She was very active in community affairs, and served as the first woman on the Albion Board of Education during the 1890s. Elizabeth unfortunately was overcome with personal problems, and committed suicide in Brockway Woods (now Victory Park). Her husband Frank became so distraught that he gave up his medical practice entirely. He later served as Mayor of Albion in 1903.


Mrs. Juliet Calhoun Blakeley

By the beginning of the 20th century, the need for a community medical facility was apparent. Mrs. Juliet Calhoun Blakeley (1818-1920), Albion’s so-called “original mother of Mother’s Day,” offered the use of her home on the southwest corner of S. Clinton and W. Center Streets. Albion’s first hospital was opened here in early 1907, under the direction of Miss Sarah Wade, a registered nurse. It was known as Wade’s Hospital. By 1909, “Miss Wade had worn herself out by her untiring efforts and the quarters proved to be entirely inadequate,” (1) reported the Albion Recorder in a 1935 article. The hospital was furnished with the help of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.


Grant's Hospital

A private hospital operated in Albion circa 1907-1919, under the auspices of an organization called the Albion Hospital Association. Known as Grant’s Hospital, this facility was located in the home and offices of Dr. A. B. Grant. It continued in operation until the opening of the Albion City Hospital in 1909. Both hospitals are listed in the 1909 city directory.

A mass meeting of concerned citizens was held at the Albion Opera House on January 15, 1909 to address health care problems in Albion, and to address the need for a community hospital. A hospital association was formed, which charged a membership fee of $1.00. A committee was organized to look into the matter of securing a building for a community hospital. The hospital board consisted of: Dr. Samuel Dickie, George E. Dean, Daniel McAuliffe, Harry B. Parker, William J. McKone, George T. Bullen, Alvin Dice, John Richey, Dan Connors, George U. McCarty, Professor C. E. Barr, Fred W. Gress, Mrs. W. S. Kennedy, Mrs. Homer C. Blair, and Mrs. A. J. Brosseau.

The Albion City Hospital opened April 15, 1909 in rented facilities at 218 E. Erie St., the former home of insurance salesman John O. Banks. The director of the hospital was Miss Mary Binger of Detroit. Although a city hospital by name, it received no funds directly from local government until 1912, when it began receiving $50 per month. That amount was raised to $100 per month in 1921. Funds for the hospital were secured through special events, most notably a hospital ball sponsored by the ladies’ E.L.T. Club.


115 W. Ash Street, 1910 Albion City Hospital

The facility at 218 E. Erie St. soon outgrew the space needed, and a house owned by George Howard at 111 W. Ash St. was remodeled and became the new Albion City Hospital on December 2, 1910. Miss Brownley was named as superintendent of the facility. It contained twelve beds, and was supported by various community organizations, societies, and individuals. The house at 115 W. Ash Street next door was purchased in 1912 as an annex. A west wing was added in 1914, which housed the operating room, sterilizing room, consultation room, and several rooms for patients. There were three wards, and twelve private rooms.

Beginning in September 1913, the nurses were lodged in the Burns residence across the street, 110 W. Ash Street. Orderlies occupied the third floor of the hospital. A newspaper clipping taken from the Jackson Citizen Patriot stated, “The hospital is a public institution, in which every person in Albion should take pride. Patients who cannot afford to pay are admitted gratuitously and the loss is borne by the city and county. Gifts of vegetables and other donations are warmly appreciated.” (2)

A nurses’ training school was opened in October 1911, with Drs. Hafford, Marsh, Grant, Ramsdell, an Herzer on the school’s board of directors. The first diplomas in the nurses’ training program were given in June 1914, with Miss Lura Bishop and Miss Ella Smith being the first graduates of the program. An elaborate graduation ceremony was held in the Women Christian Temperance Union Hall at 105 E. Erie Street, with Dr. W. C. Marsh presiding and Dr. C. G. Darling of the University of Michigan as the featured speaker. The following year, there was one graduate of the program, Miss Lena Mae Young.

Managing a hospital was long and tiring work, and subsequently there was a large turnover in the female superintendents. Between 1907 and 1924 there were twelve of them: Misses Wade, Binger, Brownley, Stark, Mench, Frazelle, Bishop, Marquist, Mrs. Mary E. McDonald, Mrs. Alice Slater, Miss Burlingame, and Mrs. Nellie Roe. The superintendents were in charge of not only the hospital, but the nurse’s training school as well. One superintendent, Miss Josephine Frazelle (later, Mrs. Harry McAuliffe) resigned in January 1917 after having served since March, 1916. Following her letter of resignation, the Albion Recorder reported, “Miss Frazelle stated today that she greatly regretted to give up the work but that she felt that she could not continue at the risk of a physical breakdown.”(3)

The nurse’s training school operated until February 1, 1933, when it was closed due to a lack of enrollment under conditions of the Great Depression. “Graduate nurses have kept the hospital at probably a higher degree of proficiency since then,” (4) stated one account written two years after the school closed.

The life of a student nurse is best described by Mrs. Harvey J. Martin, who in a 1978 interview recalled:

“During the day, nurses arose at 6 a.m., and carefully dressed with the knowledge that they would stand uniform inspection later. They attended chapel and walked to the hospital for breakfast. All meals were served in a dining room in the basement of the hospital (white table cloths and napkins--no paper). About five minutes of 7:00 a shrill buzzer sounded, signaling the girls upstairs into a private office of the hospital superintendent, Miss L. W. Seckinger, regardless of whether breakfast was finished or not. There they lined up according to seniority and listened to the night supervisor read her report, being aware that Miss Seckinger was minutely going over appearances; no scuff marks on white shoes, laces tied in straight bows, clean, crisp uniforms, little or no makeup.” (5)


Irwin Ave. Nurses Home

The nurse’s school moved from the Ash Street location next to the hospital, to the Thrasher residence at 205 W. Ash Street on September 26, 1921. In 1923, the school moved to the residence of Miss Jennie Fanning at 117 E. Walnut Street. In the spring of 1924, the large Samuel V. Irwin home at 103 Irwin Avenue was sold to the City of Albion by local businessman George T. Bullen, and the Irwin house was transformed into the Sheldon Hospital Nurse’s Home. Mrs. Blanche Morgan was installed as matron, followed in subsequent years by Mrs. Ida E. Allen, Mrs. Ida Smith, Mrs. C. C. Case, and Mrs. John Zedler. The nurse’s training school attracted students from throughout the state of Michigan, and the house was frequently filled to capacity. According to the school record, no graduate from the Albion program failed to pass the state examination.

In addition to professional care provided at the local hospital, care to infants in the early 20th century was also provided by one noted woman, Mrs. Rosanna Belle Perrigo (1879-1948), who cared for over five hundred babies over a twenty-five year period. Mrs. Perrigo was known as “Albion’s Angel,” and “Albion’s Genius Nurse.” She never received formal nurse’s training, but gained early experience by working for a physician in Springport.


Mrs. Rosanna Belle Perrigo

Mrs. Perrigo provided love and care for hundreds of ailing Albion babies at her home, 919 Burr Oak Street. She also was instrumental in establishing a visiting nurse program in Albion. She was a well-respected woman in the community, and a “Perrigo Day” was held in 1931, in which the children she had cared for through the years sent letters of appreciation from all over the country.

The care Mrs. Perrigo provided was a motherly love which medical science could not provide. Many times she nursed frail little babies, given up by physicians, until they were out of danger and on the road to health. For example, one time she stayed up all night with an infant with a lung ailment, just holding his hands so he could feel the warmth of her hand. She often sang to the babies for hours on her lap, and cared for them as though they were her own.

By 1920, the hospital facilities on W. Ash Street had become inadequate, and rising state standards threatened to close the nurse’s training school. Miss Jennie Worthington (1859-1942), music supervisor for the Albion Public Schools and active in civic affairs, wrote a letter to an Albion boyhood friend, James W. “Don” Sheldon Riley (1879-1968) of Los Angeles, California. Worthington was then secretary of the hospital executive board. Riley’s grandfather, James W. Sheldon had been a prominent Albion banker in the 19th century, and Miss Worthington’s letter to Mr Riley asked advice on what Albion should do to acquire a new hospital.


James W. “Don” Sheldon Riley


James W. Sheldon

Miss Worthington’s letter arrived at an opportune time, for Mr. Riley stated that his mother, Madelon (Sheldon) Leffingwell (1859-1921) had set aside $50,000 from her estate to create a memorial to her banker father. Mr. Riley soon came to Albion with a proposal for the hospital board to consider (and also with a $50,000 check), and the board approved building a new hospital as a memorial to James W. Sheldon.

The city purchased land in the 900 block of S. Superior Street and received the property of the old South Ward School (closed in 1919) as a donation from the Albion Public Schools. With the property secured, the City of Albion proceeded with plans to construct a new hospital building. Although city officials soon discovered that $50,000 would not complete the project, an additional $50,000 was raised by approval of a bond issue, by a vote of 1082 to 295--a victory which demonstrated the community’s strong support.


Cornerstone Laying Ceremony

The cornerstone was laid May 25, 1923, in an elaborate ceremony, with dedication ceremonies occurring April 28, 1924. The James W. Sheldon Memorial Hospital officially opened for business on May 1, 1924, with Miss Mary E. McDonald (later Mrs. Frank Culver) as superintendent.

In addition to the very latest medical equipment, patients soon discovered another modern invention: “Pay-radio.” Patients were required to insert tokens in coin-operated radios to listen to their favorite music. Small zinc tokens bearing the name “Sheldon Memorial Hospital” were minted, and were sold to patients for a fee.


Pay-radio Tokens

Local civic organizations and individuals supplied funds to furnish individual hospital rooms. The Albion Malleable Iron Company, a local industry, furnished equipment for the operating room. The old South Ward School, on the donated school property, housed the hospital heating plant. These gifts and other measures saved the city thousands of dollars.

In the succeeding years, various pieces of modern equipment were added as old ones became obsolete. Major improvements were made during late 1941 and early 1942 when the W. K. Kellogg Foundation cooperated in a $50,000 modernization project. Major items included a new elevator, acoustical treatment, new corridor floors, new patient room furniture, redecorating, surgery equipment, and roof installation.


Sheldon Memorial Hospital

By the late 1940s, the beds at James W. Sheldon Memorial Hospital were filled to capacity, and a $300,000 fund drive was launched for a three-story addition to the rear of the hospital. When bids were solicited however, they came to over $400,000, and with the interior added, the total project cost over $500,000. The new wing opened in 1952, after three years of construction. Following its opening came a complete renovation of the original structure. An open house was held June 7, 1953 for the new and renovated facilities.

Individual health care administered by family physicians often took place in second-story offices above downtown retail businesses during the 1950s. Patients had to climb one or two flights of stairs (if they were able) in order to reach their physicians. The population and economic boom during the 1950s created a housing and office shortage, and space was at a premium. Not only were the offices inconvenient for the patients, but for the physicians as well. To help solve the dilemma, a Medical Arts Building was constructed and opened on July 29, 1961, housing offices of several physicians and dentists. The facility was erected just north of the Sheldon hospital and required the closing of a portion of E. Oak Street.


Sheldon Memorial Hospital Wing Construction, 1951

During the 1950s and early 1960s, Sheldon Memorial Hospital was filled to capacity, as the population and baby boom dramatically increased the numbers of patients and services performed. Statistics show substantial increases between 1953 and 1960 in: Patients admitted (41%), patient days (79%), births (23%), X-Ray examinations (74%), laboratory tests (501%), and surgical services (30%). A 1961 study by the University of Michigan’s Bureau of Hospital Administration showed the pressing need for a new hospital building.

A fund-raising campaign was launched on January 5, 1962, to raise $500,000 locally as part of the estimated $1.3 million total cost. Plans called for the erection of the new three-story building just north of the existing hospital. A brochure explaining the fund-raising plans, as well as the need was distributed throughout the community.

It was later determined that building an addition to the existing Sheldon Memorial Hospital would not be in the long-term interests of the community. Instead, plans for a new hospital complex focused on an 11-acre site at 809 W. Erie St. The land allowed for ample parking space and future expansion. At its February 1967 meeting, the hospital board decided to name the new facility the Albion Community Hospital.

The Albion Community Hospital was erected, with the dedication and open house held on December 10, 1967. The new facility cost $2.1 million. Sheldon Memorial Hospital was closed, and remodeling began on January 6, 1969. It was reopened as Sheldon Manor on January 12, 1970.


Sheldon Manor

Sheldon Manor was a facility devoted to long-term rehabilitative care. Many of the patients were elderly, and in subsequent years Sheldon Manor lost an average of $100,000 annually. Because of the financial burden to the hospital budget, Sheldon Manor was closed February 28, 1978. The building continued to house the hopsital laundry and a few professional offices. During the 1980s the old Sheldon Memorial Hospital building has seen several temporary uses as doctor’s offices, the hospital business office, and other functions, but it has been deemed non-cost effective due to stricter state regulations and the handicapper access laws. It is unclear today what the future holds for this structure.

The non-profit Albion Area Ambulance Service was established by local citizens in December, 1966 after Albion’s two funeral homes announced that they were discontinuing their ambulance services due to rising costs. In response, citizens banded together to organize a volunteer ambulance organization. The funeral homes sold their vehicles to the Ambulance Service for $1.00 each, and the Service was located in the former Albion Lumber Company on E. Cass St.


Late 1960s original Albion ambulance service ambulance at the original 131 E. Cass St. location


Albion Area Ambulance Service, 1974

Albion voters approved $46,000 in 1970 for the construction of an ambulance service building to be attached to the Albion Community Hospital, and this new facility opened in the spring of 1971. Newer quarters were constructed in 1987, after which the hospital expanded into the former Ambulance headquarters.

Since 1966, Albion’s volunteer ambulance service has utilized hundreds of volunteers, including Albion College students. Each year the Service conducts a “sponsor member” program for a set fee, which allows the subscribers to have ambulance service at no or reduced costs. The service is a vital part of the overall health care environment for the Albion area.

With the Albion Community Hospital located on W. Erie St., other medical facilities have been built in its vicinity. The Albion Manor Care Center, a private nursing home, opened in 1969 at 1000 W. Erie St., west of the hospital. A new physicians building was erected behind the hospital on Keefer Drive in 1980, attracting several physicians from the Medical Arts building on E. Oak St.

SUMMARY

We have observed that adequate health care facilities in Albion became a reality as a result of the cooperation, dedication, and insight from not only those in the medical profession, but from community leaders as well. This type of community support has helped insure proper health care for Albion and its citizens.

ADDENDUM, FEBRUARY, 2002

The 1990s brought significant changes to health care in Albion, as economic and legal factors weighed heavily upon our local hospital facility. On the positive side, city and hospital officials were successful in relieving themselves of the huge “dinosaur” Sheldon Memorial Hospital building in December, 1995. It was purchased by Steve and Yvonne Munier, who subsequently remodeled the complex into the “Sheldon Place” luxury apartments. This successful effort showed how functionally-obsolete buildings could be turned into productive, tax-paying facilities and be a benefit to the community. In addition, the Albion Medical Arts Center located just north of the old Sheldon Memorial Hospital, was sold in May, 1993 and also transformed into rental units.


Sheldon Place Apartments

Regarding Albion Community Hospital however, dark days lay ahead. In 1987, negotiations began to separate the hospital from the City of Albion in order to protect the city from possible financial losses. An organization called the Albion Health Services was formed at that time. While negotiations were ongoing, the hospital subsequently lost $1.2 million in 1990, and $750,000 in 1991. Albion voters approved the sale of Albion Community Hospital in August, 1992 by an overwhelming vote of 1,326 to 108.

Negotiations then began with southern Michigan hospitals for bids to purchase the Albion facility. A proposal from an alliance consisting of the Albion Health Services, Battle Creek Health System, and Borgess Health Alliance (Kalamazoo) was accepted by the Albion City Council on Monday, February 7, 1994. On June 30, 1994, Albion Community Hospital was officially transferred to the Albion Health Services. Numerous legal and financial issues that surrounded the transfer and obligations of each party involved were addressed and resolved. AHS board member Bill Stoffer stressed the importance that local health care had to a local economy. “As a small businessman if you lose your hospital, you lose your small business,” (6) he stated at the time of the transfer. The AHS consisted of a 15-member board, and the three-year alliance agreement included loans to Albion Community Hospital and administrative support.


Trillium Hospital

The name of the hospital was changed to Trillium Hospital on December 6, 1997. With medical facilities also in Springport and Parma (a total of three locations, thus the name TRI-llium), it was felt that the Trillium Health Alliance would be a proper “umbrella” name for the group. The name “Albion” was thereby removed from our community hospital. Many residents did not approve of the name change. Confusing the situation, there existed in Albion a temporary employment agency from Marshall called “Trillium Staffing Solutions” that operated a branch office in the Albion Volunteer Service Center in downtown Albion. Thus Albion now had two “Trilliums.”

A publicity “image” campaign began to attract patients to the re-named facility. Billboards were placed on Interstate-94, ads were placed in area newspapers, and the hospital participated in various community events with information booths. The hospital used its alliance to attract a consortium of physicians and specialists who would come to Albion on a part-time basis to treat local patients. New equipment was added, the hospital made a valiant effort to “sell” itself to the community and to the people it served. It also offered free annual special screening clinics such as prostate testing for men, which were widely supported.

Economically, changes in reimbursement formulas from insurance companies and from the state and Federal government resulted in dwindling dollars for the hospital. More Albion residents were choosing to go out-of-town for health care services for a variety of personal and economic reasons. Some were “forced” to do so because their HMO insurance required them to be treated at Oaklawn Hospital in Marshall instead where full-reimbursement would be given, but not at Trillium in Albion.

With the expiration of the agreement with Borgess and Battle Creek systems in 1997, the Trillium Health Alliance signed an association agreement with Foote Hospital in Jackson. At the time it was noted that Albion residents had more in common economically with Jackson (only 20 miles away) than with Battle Creek (30 miles away). Trillium officials felt the hospital could benefit from a new association.

The first casualty signaling the “beginning of the end” was Trillium’s obstetrical unit which was closed on May 19, 1999. The decision was a financial one. “Without the adequate reimbursement for obstetrical care from the state, we are causing financial hardship on the other services we provide for outpatents,” (7) stated Mike Boff, president of Trillium Health Alliance in 1999 interview. Trillium Hospital was only receiving approximately one-third of the cost reimbursement from the state for obstetrical services. Without using the word “Medicaid,” Boff continued: “We currently receive reimbursement from the state for approximately 70% of mothers and children we care for.” (8) No longer would it be feasibly possible for a person to be “born and raised in Albion.” Expectant mothers were directed to have their children born at Foote Hospital in Jackson instead.

Following the removal of the obstetrical unit at Trillium, Oaklawn Hospital in Marshall (which was expanding its Birth Center) erected a billboard along I-94 at 24 Mile Road facing Albion featuring a picture of a white baby with the words “Delivered with a personal touch.” Foote Hospital in Jackson soon countered with their own billboard located by the railroad depot that featured photographs of babies of several races.


Dr. Ralph and Mary Cram Outpatient and Emergency Center, Inside


Dr. Ralph and Mary Cram Outpatient and Emergency Center, Outside

Despite the setback of the loss of the obstetrical unit, the Dr. Ralph and Mary Cram Outpatient and Emergency Center addition was constructed in 1999-2000 in order to provide up-to-date care and services to residents of the Albion area. Money was solicited from various individuals and groups in order to help fund the project. The $1.8 million facility opened on December 11, 2000. It was named after long-time Albion physician Dr. Ralph Cram, a family practitioner who was known for delivering babies, and his wife Mary. Cram was named the 1993 Michigan “Physician of the Year.” Dr. Cram and his wife Mary were very active in community work and civic organizations throughout their careers, donating their time and efforts in many worthwhile projects.


Dr. Ralph and Mary Cram

Albion lost 922 persons in the 2000 U.S. Census, bringing population of the city down to an official 9,144--an ominous indication of the “downsizing” of our community. This was the result of the loss of local employment after several small factories had closed in the 1990s, and people moved away in order to find work. In October 2001, the Albion Recorder daily newspaper reverted back to a weekly-only publication, another indication of the rough economic times in a small town.


Albion Health Services (Trillium Hospital) board of directors. Front row: Joyce Spicer, Charles Lentz, Kitty Padget-vice chairperson; William Stoffer-chairperson, Madeline Adie. Back row: Bernard Konkle, Sr., treasurer; Dr. Ralph Cram MD; Mike Boff--president; Chris Miller, Secretary, Arlin Ness, Martin Holmes MD, M. Rashid Siddiqui, MD.

The Trillium Hospital Board entered into a management agreement with Foote Hospital in Jackson in February 2001 to identify problems and to determine if full health-care could feasibly continue in Albion. The hospital continued losing money, including $1.8 million combined in 1999 and 2000. From 1997 to 2002, the losses totaled $6.5 million. (9) It was revealed that 62% of Albion residents went to other hospitals in 2000 and 2001, and that the hospital averaged 18 percent Medicaid patients--above the national average of 6 to 10 percent. (10)

On Tuesday, January 29, 2002, Trillium Hospital announced that it was closing the hospital. This occurred one week later at midnight on Tuesday, February 5, 2002. In its press release, the Hospital stated, “The Trillium Board has concluded, and the Foote Board agrees, that it is no longer financially feasible to operate Trillium Hospital.” (11) Bill Stoffer, Chairman of the Trillium Hospital Board stated, “Foote Health System is one of the region’s leading providers of healthcare and its administrators are dedicated to providing local access to health care services that will address the community’s needs and support its mission of improving the health status of Jackson and its surrounding communities. This was a tough but well thought out decision, and I am confident that Foote will continue to ensure convenient and compassionate care with the provision of clinical excellence. We are hopeful that the community understands and will continue to support our decision."

The closure meant the loss of over 200 local jobs, some of which however were regained by former Trillium employees being hired at Foote Hospital in Jackson or at Oaklawn Hospital in Marshall. A competition for the Albion health care market soon developed and both aforementioned hospitals are currently in the process of finding their niche locally in the absence of an Albion hospital. Time will tell how this all plays out. The future of the Trillium Hospital facility is unclear as of this writing. Local physicians are also being challenged in the services they provide, and who stays and who leaves will become apparent in the months to come.

Albion had its own hospital for 95 years, from 1907 to 2002. Albion enters the 21st century with a new challenge of providing health care for its citizens in the absence of a community hospital. What will transpire in the days and months to come will be closely watched by our citizens. It will take a concerted effort by the leaders and officials of our town in order to work out alliances, consortiums, and various options in order to provide adequate health care facilities in Albion. What will transpire from all of this remains to be seen.


Trillium Hospital, Feb. 9, 2002

FOOTNOTES

1. “City Especially Proud of Its Fine, Modern Hospital.” Albion Evening Recorder, 29 June 1935, pg. 4. Return to article.

2. “Albion Hospital Credit to City.” Jackson Citizen Patriot, undated clipping, ca. 1915. Return to article.

3. “Hospital in Need of Reorganization.” Albion Evening Recorder, 26 January 1916, pg. 1. Return to article.

4. “City Especially Proud,” pg. 4. Return to article.

5. Mrs. Harvey J. Martin. “Hospital Had Nursing School.” Albion Evening Recorder, 6 February 1978, pg. 2. Return to article.

6. Sally Slaughter. “City Council Action Allows Hospital Transfer to Begin.” Albion Recorder, 8 February 1994, pg. 1. Return to article.

7. “Trillium Closes OB Unit Ahead of Schedule.” Albion Recorder. 20 May 1999, pg. 1 Return to article.

8. Ibid. Return to article.

9. Pat Rombyer and Brian Wheeler. “235 Will Lose Hospital Jobs.” Jackson Citizen Patriot, 30 January 2002, pg. 2. Return to article.

10. Ibid. Return to article.

11. “Trillium Hospital to Discontinue Services.” News Release, 29 January 2002, pg. 2. Return to article.


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