HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY
Early Doctors in Pasco County
This page was last revised on May 19, 2012.
Dr. James G. Wallace (1836-1911), came to what is now Pasco County around 1870 and was the first medical doctor in the county, according to Bill Dayton.
Dr. James G. Guthrie came to the Hudson area about 1883, according to articles below.
In 1884, John Ward Hill (died, 1916, in St. Petersburg), a pioneer doctor in Pasco County, began a practice at Chipco. According to a source, Dr. John Ward Hill (1835-1911) served as a surgeon in Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. In 1884 he and his wife and their eight children moved to Chipco via covered wagon. He practiced medicine there for 17 years and then moved to Hudson for one year and then moved to San Antonio where they lived from 1902-1908.
J. A. Hendley wrote, “Dr. G. B. Roberts, Dr. J. G. Wallace, Dr. C. T. Seay, and Dr. Alexander attended to the health of the country at large.”
The Florida State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1886-87 lists W. W. Cochran and W. F. Alexander as physicians in Fort Dade and A. F. Newkirk as a physician in Blanton.
D. E. Sumner recalled, “Dr. Shade Hancock and R. Alexander were the first doctors in Pasco county. Dr. Hancock lived where Mr. A. L. Auvil now lives. Dr. Alexander lived near Lake Jovita.” The 1870 census of Hernando County shows a 44-year-old farmer named Shade Hancock, born in Georgia.
In 1890, the Proceedings of the Florida Medical Association includes a verbal report by Dr. N. A. Williams of Dade City for the Pasco County Medical Society. He said, “We organized in Pasco County something less than a year ago. I think we have about seven members. Our Secretary is Dr. B. L. Rae of Dade City; our President, Dr. G. W. Gatton of San Antonio.”
On May 22, 1898, the Tampa Tribune referred to Dr. N. A. Williams as “one of the prominent physicians and substantial citizens of Dade City.” An 1899 article reported that Dr. A. N. Williams had been a resident of Dade City for 6 years, moving here from Hernando County, where he had resided for 12 of 15 years. Another source says that Dr. W. A. Williams, a graduate of the Atlanta Medical College, class of 1890, died in Dade City on Feb. 7, 1899.
In 1899 the Tampa Tribune reported that Dr. O. B. Likens, an eye specialist, opened an office in Dade City.
On July 19, 1909, the Ocala Evening Star reported, “Miss Emma Washburn, a graduate nurse from the Marion County Hospital, left this afternoon to take charge of a new hospital established by the Fivay Lumber Co., at Fivay, Fla. Dr. A. C. Coogler is physician in charge.”
In 1912 a newspaper reported, “Dade City regretted to give up Dr. W. E. Seay, who has gone to Jacksonville to practice his profession.”
Dr. Francis Waller may have been the first doctor in Elfers.
Dr. William S. Tucker was an early physician in Hudson. The Dade City Banner reported on Sept. 1, 1922, that he had departed to Bradentown, where he might relocate, as Hudson was “too distressingly healthy.” However, he died the following month, and the Banner reported that the sudden death of Dr. Tucker “threw a pall of sadness over the community of Hudson.” His remains were sent to Myrtlewood, Ala.
Dr. R. D. Sistrunk in Dade City and Dr. F. C. Wirt, an osteopath in San Antonio and Dade City, are mentioned in 1922 newspapers.
On Oct. 22, 1926, the Dade City Banner reported: “Dade City now has a 12-bed hospital, the equal in equipment to any to be found in South Florida, with the moving this week of the little emergency hospital operated for the past few years by Dr. T. F. Jackson on the second floor of the Touchton building to the former residence of the Rev. H. N. Abraham on Church street. First class equipment for the care of medical and surgical patients has been installed, and a corps of trained nurses have been engaged. While the hospital is a private one, in the sense that it is owned entirely by Dr. Jackson, its facilities will be at the disposal of all practicing physicians of Pasco county, and it has the moral support of the Pasco-Hernando Medical Association.”
Early Doctors (1976)
This article by Wardlaw Jones is taken from East Pasco’s Heritage.
This listing of early doctors in east Pasco County includes those whom I and my associates remember, and those of whom old settlers among our patients have told us.
In Dade City, Dr. R. D. Sistrunk and Dr. Seay were practicing by about 1910. Dr. T. F. Jackson ran a hospital in a two-story wooden building on W. Howard Ave. on the present hospital parking lot. After his death Pasco County bought the property and built the present center wing of Jackson Memorial Hospital; other wings were added later. Dr. J. T. Bradshaw practiced first in San Antonio and then in Dade City. Dr. Tannenbaum practised during the boom in the twenties. Dr. W. Wardlaw Jones came from Atlanta in 1933. Dr. J. J. Bourke married a sister of Mrs. Mildred Huckaby Price. Dr. Claude Anderson came in 1933, and supervised Jackson Hospital after Dr. Jackson became disabled. Dr. Frank Farley came from Bushnell; he was succeeded by Dr. Parker. Dr. Harry G. Brownlee first practiced in Zephyrhills, took special training in Miami, and relocated in Dade City. Dr. B. J. Meadows was associated with Dr. W. W. Jones in the early fifties. During the next twenty years Dr. J. L. Williams, Dr. Dwayne L. Deal, Dr. James W. Basinger, and Dr. Philip Crease began practice. The opening of Community General Hospital on Ft. King Rd. in 1974 brought Dr. Edwin R. Lamm, Dr. Rina P. Ayala, Dr. Jack D. Maleh, Dr. G. D. Witters, Dr. John L. Ingham, Dr. G. Marino, Dr. Dem C. Amparo, Dr. D. A. Caselnova, Dr. Francesco Iglesias, and Dr. H. J. Petrillo.
Dade City osteopaths began with Dr. F. C. Wirt. Dr. W. E. Stanfield built the present clinic on E. Church Ave., and for a time operated it as a hospital for up to ten patients. Dr. M. Oliva and Dr. J. G. Fortunato joined him. Dr. Donald L. McBath has his own office on Ft. King Rd.
In Lacoochee, Dr. A. B. Cannon came in 1922 with Cummer Sons Cypress Co. Dr. William L. Walters has practiced there since about that time, but lives in Dade City. Dr. H. L. Harrell was at Cumpresco logging camp east of Dade City.
In Trilby. Dr. Bird operated a hospital at the height of the Atlantic Coast Line Railway activities.
In Zephyrhills, Dr. Rice was practicing during the Greer Sawmill activities. Dr. Mayner, Dr. Mills, Dr. Davis, and Dr. Lamb practiced through the teens and twenties. Dr. J. T. Manley came after World War I. Later were Dr. R. Piat, Dr. A. Brown, Dr. Hammond, and Dr. John Wells. Two brothers from India. Dr. S. S. and Dr. B. S. Bedi, operate the Baba Medical Center. Two osteopaths were Dr. John Wilkinson and Dr. Sturgis Lyster.
Pioneer Doctors Faced Adversity
This article appeared in the Tampa Tribune on Dec. 18, 2001.
By CAROL JEFFARES HEDMAN
'Tis the season - not just for holiday cheer but also for the flu.
Flu shots in recent years have prevented the “bug” from infecting many. And few alive today recall the 1918 epidemic of the influenza virus that killed 675,000 Americans and more than 20 million worldwide.
There were doctors in Pasco County by that time, but the debut of licensed physicians was slow in coming. As early as the 1500s American Indian “doctors” practiced medicine here, rewarded by the patients and families by offerings of land. The families of those who didn't survive were given permission to kill the doctors.
The prognosis ratio of curing the American Indian dwindled when European explorers came to the New World, bringing with them the diseases of measles, whooping cough, diphtheria and small pox.
Without any immunity to these diseases, the mortality was high and the diseases eventually lead to the collapse of the American Indian civilization.
White men also suffered but transient “country doc” offered cures, a common remedy being copious bleeding. Barbers were often called upon to perform the bleeding technique. The doctors wore many hats, selling real estate and farming, and were paid with oranges and potatoes.
Family members pulled broken bones back into place, but often left the victim deformed or crippled. Babies were delivered by grandma or the neighborhood midwife.
Public Health Comes To Forefront
It wasn't until the late 1870s that public health became a concern in Florida. The yellow fever epidemic left the state in panic. Starting in the port cities, the epidemic hit Tampa in September of 1886 when five people died from yellow fever.
It was reported that hundreds of people fled their homes, literally leaving meals on their tables.
Most thought the disease traveled underground at a pace of 2 miles per day. But a Tampa doctor, John Wall, had offered his theory in 1881 that mosquitoes carried the disease. Although he was a respected doctor, no one paid attention to his theory and he was still pleading his case when he died of a heart attack in 1895 while addressing the Florida Medical Association in Gainesville.
It took the Spanish American War and an additional five more years of research before a team of Army doctors, headed by physician Walter Reed, proved Wall’s theory to be right.
One of the first actions taken by the Pasco County Commission when created in 1887 was to quarantine the county, restricting entry into the area.
Railroads had brought a new method of transporting products from the area, but it also provided a method of carrying the disease. The county commission posted guards along the tracks to make sure no one was allowed to debark from incoming trains.
As a result of the yellow fever epidemics the governor called the Legislature into a special session to create the state Board of Health to supervise the county boards and public health of the state.
In 1931 the Legislature passed an act to create county health departments with state funding.
But the creation of such was slow and it wasn't until 1947 that the Pasco County Health Department was established, opening an office in Dade City. An office in west Pasco wasn't opened until 1960.
Doctors Begin Pasco Practices
Records of pioneer doctors in Pasco County are sketchy. One of the first was physician John Ward Hill who started a practice in Chipco, near St. Joseph, in 1884. He was also the town doctor in San Antonio from 1902 to 1908.
In 1884, ill health also prompted physician Joseph F. Corrigan to come to the Catholic Colony of San Antonio. After the founding of nearby Saint Leo College, Corrigan became the attending physician and was listed as such on faculty lists until 1910.
Corrigan, who earned his medical degree from Columbia, a doctorate of philosophy from Mount Saint Mary’s CollEge of Maryland, and studied cancer treatment in Paris, was also elected the first mayor of the town of St. Leo when it was incorporated in 1891.
His palatial home, built on the first 40 acres of land he bought from colony founder Judge Edmund Dunne, served as the town hall. Corrigan died in 1919 and is buried in his native New Jersey.
The first established doctors in Dade City were R. D. Sistrunk and John T. Bradshaw who arrived in the mid-1920s.
In the early 1930s, T. F. Jackson came to Dade City and opened a clinic in a frame house on what is now Church Avenue in 1932. The clinic would become Jackson Memorial Hospital, the first in Pasco County, on Howard Avenue.
Jackson Memorial Hospital was owned by the county in 1981 when purchased by Adventist Health Systems- Sunbelt. The company operated the hospital at the old location until 1985 when it opened East Pasco Medical Center in Zephyrhills.
The old hospital is now the location of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office east side operations.
A “Dr. Guthrie” was the first medical doctor in west Pasco, coming to the Hudson area about 1883 from Missouri. However, Guthrie only practiced a short time there, moving his practice to Tarpon Springs.
In the early 1900s, physician James E. Posey came to Hudson and practiced there for several years. He was also a veterinarian and pharmacist and filled his own prescriptions at his drugstore. When New Port Richey was founded in the 1920s, Posey moved his office there. [Note: He died in 1917 and moved his practice to NPR about 1916. -jm]
West Pasco didn’t get a hospital until 1965 when 50-bed West Pasco Hospital opened.
History of Medical Services in West Pasco County
This article was taken from West Pasco’s Heritage (1974).
By JULIE OBENREDER
Doctors were few and far between and their knowledge left much to be desired in the era of early settlement. Diseases, such as typhoid fever, scarlet fever, pneumonia or appendicitis, meant almost certain death to the patient. Fractured bones were usually pulled back into place by a member of the family, often leaving a person with a crippled or even useless limb for life. Babies were delivered by “Grandma” or a neighborly midwife. Home remedies prevailed.
Heat treatment was the predominating procedure and in most cases did more harm than good. Poultices made from mustard, bread and milk, raw potatoes or other household ingredients were used for anything from a cold in the chest to a black eye. Hot teas brewed from a variety of herbs, mints, and plants were believed to have had great advantages. This may have been learned from the Indians, who used various wild plants, tree barks, etc., in their many potions.
Hospitals and surgical procedures were unknown here even in the late 1800s. Drugstores were non-existent in West Pasco.
Dentists were itinerant and would pass through from time to time, coming by horse and buggy. The tools of the trade were very crude. He usually had some type of a folding chair he could easily carry in his buggy and a portable drill operated with a foot pedal. Anyone with a toothache would wind up minus a tooth and without any anesthesia to ease the pain. He would often make “false teeth” which as a rule ended up in a cup on the shelf, as they were ill-fitting and never adjusted.
Some of the early diagnoses were names we would not even recognize today, such as apoplexy, shaking palsy, barber’s itch (probably a fungus infection). Any inflammation or swelling of an extremity such as a finger, toe, arm, or leg was called a “chilblain.” “Consumption,” known to the early settlers as one of the greatest existing scourges to mankind, is now known to be tuberculosis and is rapidly coming under complete control with new scientific treatment. However, with the coming of the higher pollutants in our air in the late 1960s we have added a few new respiratory diseases such as emphysema and lung cancer. Smallpox, feared by everyone, was eventually all but eliminated by the discovery of a vaccine in 1882 but didn't get extensive publicity and usage until much later. Rheumatism was very common and one old medical journal written in 1893 described it as “a very painful affection of the joints due to travelers sleeping between damp sheets or on the cold ground.” Rickets was common among children due to their poor diets and many infants died of whooping cough.
Doctors' remedies consisted mainly of alcohol, vinegar, spirits of turpentine, camphor gum, oil of peppermint, sassafras, oil of cedar and other bitter ingredients mixed with lemon juice or wintergreen to cut the taste. Very few really medicinal drugs that are known today were used before the turn of the century accepts laudanum, belladonna, extract of ergot, quinine, potassium permanganate, and glycerine. Salves and ointments for burns, boils and other mysterious ailments were made with the base of rendered goose grease or mutton tallow with a small amount of glycerin added for softness and soothing purposes
It is interesting to note even the very earliest published medical journals warn of the dangers of eating and the need for exercise to keep healthy. Perhaps the lack of highly refined foods plus the need to work hard, long hours to survive in the wilderness accounts for the fact that so many old settlers lived to a ripe old age in spite of the absence medical care.
After Samuel Stevenson arrived in Seven Springs in 1830, his wife performed the duties of midwife and assisted with the birth of many babies, especially those of her own children. It was she who delivered Ida Naomi Hayes in 1876, her granddaughter, who was born in Captain Stevenson’s home. Another woman, Sara Baillie, who lived in Sapling Woods area around the early 1900s, performed the duties of midwife for the women of the West Pasco area. Mrs. Emil (Helmi) Nyman, a member of twelve families living in Port Richey, on April 12, 1913, delivered a baby boy born in that city, the third son of Irene and Elis Gustaf Wicks.
A Dr. Guthrie, who came to the Hudson area about 1883 from Missouri, was the first doctor in West Pasco according to all the old records. He remained in Hudson only a short time, then moved his practice to Tarpon Springs. There were several doctors in the Tarpon Springs area in the early 1900s, among them Drs. Belcher, Albaugh, Burnette, Anderson, and McAlister. Dr. Burnette and Dr. Belcher would make a house call to West Pasco if the need was urgent, traveling by horse and buggy. Early in 1900, Dr. James E. Posey, M.D., came to Hudson and practiced there for several years. He had his own drugstore with patent medicines and veterinarian supplies. He filled his own prescriptions. He was the first M. D. to practice in West Pasco County. When New Port Richey was founded, he moved there and had an office until he retired.
A Dr. Randall moved into a home at the site of the M. A. Fullington house on Massachusetts Avenue, New Port Richey, in 1915. He delivered the first baby girl born in New Port Richey, Mary Jane Casey (Mrs. G. L. Morrison). Dr. Posey delivered Mary Jane’s sister in 1917. The first baby to be born in New Port Richey was James Grey, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank I. Grey. He was born at home on Congress Street, delivered by a midwife, Mabel Bennett.
H. H. Hermansen opened and operated the first patent medicine store and soda fountain in New Port Richey in 1914, known as the Port Richey Drug Store. Somewhat earlier, Mr. J. M. Mitchell had opened one of the same type in Elfers, which remained open till near the end of the real estate boom in the late twenties. None of the early drugstores had a pharmacist and the only prescriptions that could be filled was when the doctor came to the store and mixed on medications. Mr. Mitchell once told a reporter of the Elfers West Pasco Record that his store sold more sandwiches and soft drinks than drugs. Fred C. Frierson moved from Brooksville and opened the first prescription pharmacy in West Pasco in New Port Richey in 1922, but the residents still had to rely mainly on the doctors from Tarpon Springs, until 1926, when Dr. C. A. Gavin, M. D., and A. P. English, M.D., both began a practice in New Port Richey.
One longtime resident of New Port Richey, Warrie Rothera, came to New Port Richey in 1919. He once told of the time he remembered having a bout with pneumonia while he was quite a young fellow. The only doctor available when he needed one was a veterinarian. Warrie remarked years later to a friend he still recalled the “big horse needle the doctor jabbed in my hip.” He thought the treatment was worse than the disease.
An ad in the New Port Richey Press of 1922 offered the services of a practical nurse, probably the first nurse in West Pasco, a Miss M. Schnackers.
In August of 1922, Dr. L. Martin of Dunedin, dentist and ophthalmologist, had an office in New Port Richey and came to town once a week on Thursday. In the same year a retired M. D. moved from the north, Dr. W. W. Hunt, and did a very limited practice. Dr. Joseph Billheimer, naturopath, opened an office in his home on East Main Street in 1924. Dr. C. A. Gavin, M. D., opened an office upstairs in the Pasco Building in April of 1926. Dr. and Mrs. M. Goodman moved into a home on the west side of the river in 1922. He was a retired veterinary-surgeon but offered his services free to anyone who needed them. He was also very civic minded. He built a large swimming pool at his home and allowed all the neighborhood children to use it freely. Dr. Burnette of Tarpon Springs had been the company physician for the Odessa Saw Mill Co. for several years but gave it up to be succeeded by a Dr. Tillis, who came to New Port Richey in March of 1922 hoping to build up a practice.
In 1925, Robert Bolling purchased both the Port Richey Drug Store and Frierson’s Pharmacy, which were combined and later moved into the Clark Building as Bolling’s Pharmacy. The Poole-Hoffman Drug Co. and Vahey’s Pharmacy both opened in 1926 when the area was flourishing. Bolling’s Pharmacy sold to James Clark in 1927 and operated as Clark’s Pharmacy. The following year, Dr. Gavin and his nephew Bill purchased the Clark Pharmacy and did business under the name of Gavin’s Pharmacy. The Boulevard Pharmacy operated here in 1934 and the Home Drug Store in 1938. The Vahey Pharmacy was purchased in April of 1940 by Harry Lashua. Roscoe Henderson, Registered Pharmacist, conducted the business after the death of Dr. E. E. Vahey.
Dr. Fred W. Bechtold, M. D., moved here in 1927 and was appointed the first city health officer in September of that year. Dr. S. G. P. Harding, a dentist from Tampa, opened a part time office. Dr. E. B. Krebs, naturopath, practiced in 1937, until Dr. Edwin Brookman replaced him, opening an office on Boulevard South at Delaware Avenue, with his residence in the rear of the building. He soon had a thriving practice, was very popular and later became mayor of New Port Richey.
In April of 1950, Dr. Brookman announced in the New Port Richey Press plans to enlarge his medical facilities as soon as his new residence was completed which was being constructed on the opposite corner of Delaware and Boulevard South. He envisioned a complete medical clinic including a laboratory, x-ray, new diagnostic and treatment equipment, plus a four-bed unit for obstetrical and nursing care and the addition of one physician and two nurses to his staff. The doctor did move into his new home upon its completion but never proceeded with his announced plans but instead moved his family and practice to St. Petersburg.
During World War II, Dr. Vincent Trappazzano, D. D. S., opened the first fulltime dental office in West Pasco on West Main Street, New Port Richey.
Dr. Gerald R. Sprankel, D. O., arrived in 1951 from Ohio and took over the office formerly occupied by Dr. Brookman. In 1952, Dr. George Perraud, D. O., came to New Port Richey from New Jersey, opening a practice in the office vacated by Dr. Paul Minthorn on Boulevard South. Dr. Perraud married Miss Lillie Belle Calais (Chasco Fiesta Queen, 1949), daughter of Mrs. Helen Calais, East Main Street and the late James Calais. Dr. and Mrs. Perraud moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1958 to enter a partnership with his brother, also a physician with a thriving practice in that city.
The year 1952 saw the arrival of the first optometrist to practice and West Pasco, Dr. Robert Hartzell, with office on Boulevard South. In April of 1959, he moved into a new, larger facility on East Main Street where he continues his practice today.
1952 also saw the opening of the office by Dr. Frank Y. Robson, M.D., who moved to New Port Richey from Tampa, opening office upstairs over the Pasco Hardware Supply, Boulevard South, later moving into larger quarters in the old Arcade Post Office Building on East Main Street. In 1960 he built the Robson Professional Building at 115-117 Boulevard North. He was a surgeon on the staff at the Tarpon Springs Hospital until the opening of the West Pasco Hospital, New Port Richey, when he became the first chief of staff and remained in that position until ill health forced his resignation.
In the 1950s there were three drug stores in New Port Richey. Roscoe’s Rexall Drugs, 200 South Boulevard, owned and operated by Roscoe Henderson, registered pharmacist; Central Pharmacy, South Boulevard, owned and operated by “Doc” Willard Minton, registered pharmacist; and Davis Pharmacy, owned and operated by “Doc” William Davis, registered pharmacist, at the corner of East Main Street and Boulevard South.
In 1952 it was necessary for the women to travel either to Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, or Clearwater if they wished to go to a hospital for delivery of a child. Dr. Gerald Sprankel realized the need for an obstetrical care unit closer to home and established the first clinic in the West Pasco area, the Richey Clinic, on Boulevard South. It was very similar to what Dr. Brookman, his predecessor, had hoped to build. It consisted of a reception room, examining room, treatment rooms, therapy department, laboratory, delivery room, a four bed ward, small kitchen, and laundry. All cooking and laundry was done on the premises. It was a total care unit for the young women who were having babies and for the first time in West Pasco a woman could receive competent obstetrical care without traveling many miles.
Mrs. Julie J. Obenreder was nurse-in-charge of the clinic, Mrs. Anna Gaines of Elfers, the nurse on call for night duty, and Mrs. Maida Uzzle of Port Richey was laboratory technician and all around assistant. New mothers and babies remained at the clinic for about three days, or longer if necessary. Though no accurate count was kept of the number of babies born during the eight years the clinic was in operation it is safe to say the number well exceeded six hundred as the patients came from the entire West Pasco area including Odessa and even many from Tarpon Springs.
Until West Pasco Hospital opened its doors in 1965, the women of the black community had all their babies delivered at home or, in case of complications, would be sent to the Clara Fry Hospital in Tampa. One incident vividly recalled by Mrs. Obenreder occurred in 1952, when a man to the black community came to her home pleading assistance for his wife. The doctor on the case has out of town, no other doctor could be reached, and the woman was already an advanced age of labor. Mrs. Obenreder agreed to go, delivered the baby, which turned out to two months premature. It was so small it could be held in the palm of a hand and probably weighed no more than three pounds. Mrs. Obenreder, fearing for the infant’s life, gave careful instructions to keep the baby warm while she drove into town for supplies. She hurried back with hot water bottles (there were no electrical or plumbing facilities at Pine Hill Community then), and other necessary items but as she walked into the room, to her amazement the baby was already at the mother’s breast partaking of its first meal, apparently having no problems. The doctor arrived soon after, and upon examining the mother and baby pronounced them both to be in good condition. The child thrived and today is a strong, healthy young man, the son of Ellen Mae and Lee Roy Winthrop of Congress Street.
Port Richey was in dire need of a doctor in the early 1960s and finally managed to get one who was willing to open a practice in their city. He arrived in January of 1963 and opened an office in the Elaine Professional Building on Highway 19 North. All the residents of the area pitched in and helped the doctor get started. He was Dr. James Marlowe M.D., now located in the Professional Building of the Community Hospital complex of the south of New Port Richey.
Ground breaking ceremonies for West Pasco Hospital, New Port Richey’s first hospital, located at the corner of Madison Avenue and Indiana Street, were held April 30, 1964. Henry Potter, well-known local businessman, was chairman of the Board of Trustees, W. A. Summers, Vice Chairman, Henry Falany, a long time resident and building contractor was a Board member, A. H. Stevens, County Commissioner, a Board member, Loyall Fisher, Secretary of the Board, and Mayor Clair Kohler officiated. Contract for the construction was awarded to Stop Brothers of Orlando, Florida. This new, modern, 50-bed facility opened its doors on September 1, 1965. Total cost of the construction and equipment amounted to $624,296.60. The first patient admitted was Mrs. Ina Marshall. By 5:00 p.m. the opening day, eleven patients had been admitted. John C. Carter came to New Port Richey from Brooksville to become the first hospital administrator. Miss Beulah Bullar, R. N., Directress of Nurses and Dr. Frank Y. Robson, M. D., Chief of Staff.
On September 6th, the entire staff was filled with pride when the first baby was born in the new obstetrical wing. Dr. W. H. Hubbard, M. D., ushered the eight pound, one and one-half ounce boy into the world of smiling faces. Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Gallion, U. S. 19 North, Port Richey, were the proud parents.
The hospital is under the direct supervision of the Pasco Board of County Commissioners with the eight-member Board of Trustees as a governing body. The first Board consisted of Henry Potter, Chairman; W. A. Summers, Vice Chairman; Loyall Fisher, Secretary; and Henry Falany, Charles F. Touchton, Jr., B. E. Burns, W. S. Edwards, and Charles Ashbrook. Mr. James J.Altman, Attorney for the Board.
Mr. John Carter resigned his position as Administrator in December of 1969 and Mrs. Dorothy Williams was appointed Acting Administrator until the position was filled in April of 1970 by Mr. Radcliffe, who remained only a brief time. From April 1970 until January 1971, Mrs. Williams was his assistant but on his resignation she has appointed full administrator in February of 1971 and has held the position to date. A new wing and intensive care unit was added to the hospital 1969 with an opening date of February 18, 1970, increasing the bed capacity to 102. The hospital is approximately 250 employees as of December, 1973. Ambulance service is conducted from the hospital with a fully equipped ambulance on 24 hour duty.
The second hospital to open its doors in West Pasco was Community Hospital, located on High Street, New Port Richey. This facility, fully equipped with the most modern of medical devices, 142 beds, two separate office buildings for physicians, four doctors and 136 persons on the staff, began admitting patients on August 2, 1971. Upon entering the hospital one is impressed with the beauty and simplicity of the furnishings of the visitors lobby, flanked on the right by a well stocked gift shop, managed by the Community Hospital Volunteers.
There are two pharmacies in operation, one for patient service, another four out-patients. Three registered pharmacists, one intern, and one technician are on duty, making twenty-four hour service available for patient care. Other departments include Physical Therapy; X-ray; Respiratory Therapy; Data Processing Department; Medical Records; Library; Maintenance; Housekeeping; Obstetrical Department, complete with labor rooms, delivery rooms and nursery, staffed with specially trained personnel. The Operating Suite consists of three rooms, surgeons, specialists, and a supporting “team” of anesthetists. Adjacent to this is a complete recovery room area with the most modern monitoring equipment. Intensive Care Unit and Coronary Care Unit has expanded since opening with eight glass-enclosed private rooms now in service. The Emergency Room is most efficient; averaging a monthly case load of approximately 950 with 24-hour coverage accomplished by means of using contract physicians rather than staff physicians. The cafeteria seats 70 persons, utilizes disposable plates and flatware. Patient meals are served on Aladdin type system trays, keeping foods at controlled temperatures. Expanding services continue with a projected total of 300 beds and 650 to 700 employees in the near future.
Three medical centers are located opposite the hospital on the grounds of more than 20 doctors with varying specialties or general family practices. The staff also includes about 40 additional physicians associated with Community Hospital providing a complete medical facility.
The first nursing home in West Pasco was the Magnolia Nursing Home on River Road South, owned by Mrs. Schultz. Next to open was the Richards Restorium, off Massachusetts Avenue, now known as Cambridge Nursing Home. The Richey Manor Nursing Home was built in 1967 with a 60-bed capacity and immediately after opening received its certification for Medicare treatment of patients. In 1973 an additional 60-bed wing was opened at Richey Manor. This facility is located on Madison Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue, opposite West Pasco Hospital. The most recent to open is Congressional Care Center on Congress Street, which admitted patients as of December 1973.
Materials courtesy of: Mrs. Dorothy Williams, Administrator West Pasco Hospital; Roscoe Henderson; medical journals of 1893; Mrs. Willard (Bunnie) Minton; Mrs. Frank Y. (Christine) Robson; Mrs. Florence Thomas; Mrs. G. L. Morrison; New Port Richey Press; Elfers West Pasco Record; Mike LeVerso, Public Relations Director of Community Hospital; many personal interviews with private citizens.