Chronological History of Easton Hospital 1890-1990
A group of churchwomen, the King's Daughters, galvanized by Dr. Anna M.
McAllister, began a campaign to build the first hospital in Easton. A fundraiser
brought in $9,443.52.
The Hospital's charter called for a Board of Trustees, consisting of 15
women. Mrs. Emma Pfatteicher was elected first president of the Board and held
that position for 21 years. Physicians were elected to the Medical Staff by the
Board. The Board's power was absolute.
Property on Wolf Street bought for $7,000. Large wooden residence renovated
into the first Easton Hospital with 11 beds, five attending physicians (Dr.
Charles Collmar, who became the Hospital's first surgeon, Dr. Henry Michler, Dr.
W. W. Evans, Dr. Edgar M. Green, and Dr. Robley Walter), four consulting
physicians (Drs. Traill Green, James Cavanaugh, Isaac Ott, and J.S. Hunt), and
one nurse. Hospital officially opened on November 20.
- Donation Day brought in linens, furniture, food, and other Hospital
necessities from the community.
- By the end of May, after six months of operation, 51 patients had been
treated at the Hospital
- Added Operating Room and Receiving Ward, Surgical Ward and private room to
- Overcrowding led to the addition of the east and west wings of brick to the
original wooden building.
Dr. Jacob Updegrove, father of Dr. Harvey Updegrove and grandfather of the
recently retired former Chief of Surgery and Acting Director of Surgery, Dr.
John Updegrove, became an attending physician at the Hospital. All three
generations of Updegrove physicians earned high respect for their capabilities
and their devotion to the Hospital and to their patients.
- Dr. W.E. Richards was appointed Dispensary Physician. His father, Dr. Daniel
Richards, was a Civil War surgeon and Dr. Donald Richards, son of Dr. W.E.
Richards, was later to become the Chief of the Obstetrical and Gynecological
- Dr. Henry D. Michler was appointed physician- and surgeon-in-charge,
succeeding Dr. Collmar.
- A total of 461 patients had been treated at the Hospital since it opened.
- First appendectomy performed at the Hospital.
- Easton Hospital acquired its first microscope and the Bacteriological and
Pathological laboratory was nearing completion.
- The Children's Ward was added as part of a new wing. Total Hospital bed
capacity rose to 54.
- The School of Nursing at Easton Hospital officially opens with Grace Keller
as the first student nurse
- From this year on, there was a steady increase in the number of medical and
surgical patients admitted. In this era, most of the medical problems that
brought people to the Hospital were rheumatism, typhoid fever, and the
- Early specialties were eye, ear, nose, and throat; obstetrics; and
anesthesia. Removal of cataracts, eye muscle corrections, and extraction of
foreign bodies from the eye were the most common eye operations. Operations for
middle ear infections and mastoiditis were frequent.
- During the year, 387 patients were treated.
By this time, the number of medical and surgical cases had increased
considerably. Dr. Edgar M. Green was put in charge of the medical cases. His
title was physician-in-chief. Dr. Henry Michler, who had been both
physician-in-chief and surgeon-in-chief, remained as surgeon-in-chief.
The Hospital began to report its tumor cases separately from other types of
diseases. It's noteworthy that Easton Hospital kept such records because many
public hospitals would not at that time take cancer patients in the belief that
cancer was both incurable and contagious.
The diagnosis of heart attack had not been made at the Hospital to this point
- Increasing use of the Hospital led to replacement of the original wooden
building with a modern brick structure.
- Hospital capacity had expanded to 100 beds.
- While other Pennsylvania hospitals had an overall death rate over four years
from typhoid fever of 12.5%, Easton Hospital's overall death rate was 10.5%. The
record was similar for the pneumonias. (What's surprising is that this was done
without antibiotics, oxygen therapy, or blood transfusions. However, special
mention had been made as early as 1891 of the outstanding cleanliness of the
Hospital, which may well have been an important protective factor for patients.)
- A new x-ray machine was acquired for $835.
- Radiology and Pathology were made separate divisions.
- A Maternity Ward was started.
- Potato Day was originated and enough potatoes were collected from the
community's schoolchildren to serve the Hospital through the winter.
- Dr. Robley Walter became the Hospital's first obstetrician.
- Dental department established. Free dental care provided for the poor from
that time to the present.
- Hospital celebrated its Silver Anniversary. A fundraiser for a new hospital
brought in $175,000. Mrs. William C. Atwater donated 17 lots at 20th and Lehigh
Streets. The fundraiser enabled the Hospital corporation to buy all the land
between 20th and 22nd Streets for the site of the future building. Due to World
War I and administrative problems, however, the new hospital was not built for
another 15 years.
- Sister Marie Sowa, a Lutheran Deaconess, first Superintendant of the
Hospital and Director of the School of Nursing, retired after 21 years of
World War I
- The Hospital volunteered to care for a number of sick and wounded troops and
investigated places which could be converted into temporary hospitals.
- Dr. Frederick E. Ward was appointed urologist, using the cystoscope for
diagnosis and treatment. His son, Frederick W. Ward, was to become a member of
the Medical Department.
- There was a massive reorganization and reformation of the Hospital because
of dissatisfaction on the part of many area physicians -- to the point where one
went so far as to suggest the construction of a competing community hospital.
Those physicians kept off the closed medical staff at Easton Hospital eventually
prevailed, and the Hospital's charter was altered to permit five men to be
elected to the Board, replacing five women whose terms had expired. As part of
the upheaval, the Hospital Administrator resigned, as did the President of the
Board of Trustees. Nineteen new doctors were appointed to the Medical Staff.
- Dr. Paul Correll, later to become Chief of the Surgical Staff, became
associated with the Hospital. He was to be one of the first "giants" who would
help to shape future policy at the Hospital. He was a pioneer in introducing the
open system of staff membership for physicians.
- Dr. William P. O. Thomasen became Chief of Obstetrics.
- An additional ten men were elected to the Board of Trustees. At this point,
the Board had become all male.
- The men enlarged the Board to include ten more men to deal with the
construction of a new hospital.
- The Women's Board was formed. Mrs. E. Brand Beacham was its first President.
It supervised the School of Nursing. The Women's Board has remained a strong,
beneficial influence and a source of special financial support to the Hospital.
- A State Cancer Clinic was established at the Hospital.
- Dedication of the new Easton Hospital and Nurses' Home in Wilson Borough
took place. (In 1952, the Nurses' Home was re-named "Meuser Hall," in honor of
Fred Meuser, a Trustee and active supporter of the Hospital and its mission for
- Dr. Jacob Kincov was appointed Chief Resident Physician. He became Chief of
the Medical Department in 1942.
- Dr. Stephen Murray was on the Medical Staff. He was a trained gynecologist,
which was rare at that time.
- Because of the Depression, more than one-third of the Hospital's patients
did not have the money to pay their bills.
- Dr. Frederick Zillesen, Chief of Pathology, headed a Tumor Clinic, opened as
a feature of the 50th anniversary of the founding of Easton Hospital.
- Sulfa drugs were helping to control peritonitis.
- Dr. Merton Cohen became an adjunct member of the Pediatrics Department. His
father, Joseph Cohen, had been a dermatologist at the Hospital and his brother,
Robert Cohen, was also on the pediatric staff.
- Sulfa drugs had been joined by penicillin to become quite valuable in
combatting infections in general.
- There were 18 hospital auxiliaries, volunteer groups set up to serve the
Hospital in various ways.
- The Hospital was removed from the approved list for the training of interns
by the American Medical Association. It was later reinstated when its program
was reorganized and strengthened.
- After World War II, the system of internships gave way to residencies at
hospitals, which meant considerably more training became necessary in both
medical and surgical specialties.
- New York University began an affiliation with the Hospital to send residents
here in the late 40s and early 50s. This program was helpful in shifting Easton
from a small community hospital to a teaching hospital.
- The war had depleted the hospital staff seriously. This led to the
development of ancillary services, such as Housekeeping and Central Services,
which freed the nurses of many non-professional duties, allowing them to
concentrate more fully on patient care.
- Dr. George Barrett began a program to develop the present Department of
- The Hospital's charter was changed to permit women once again to be members
of the Board of Trustees.
- Dr. Thomas Zulick, Sr. dies after a brilliant career in surgery and an
association with the Hospital that lasted 55 years. He was Associate Surgeon and
Medical Director and later emeritus Surgeon-in-Chief. He was survived by his
son, Dr. Thomas C. Zulick, Jr., who became Surgeon-in-Chief and a Hospital
Trustee, and was honored with a Hospital resolution that thanked him for his 63
years of distinguished service. His grandson, James Zulick, Esq., currently
serves the Hospital as a Trustee.
- Helen Morris became Director of the School of Nursing. Her professionalism,
her high standards, and her concern for students made her a role model for
- A Cancer Clinic, fully approved by the American College of Surgeons, was
established by Dr. Charles A. Waltman. It was expanded in 1988 into a
Comprehensive Community Cancer Center by Drs. Claude Gaulin and Sandy Dorman.
- The cornerstone for the West Wing was laid.
- A new and larger nurses' residence was dedicated (to be known years later as
the Clinic Building).
A polio epidemic led to the housing of patients in a quonset hut on the
Hospital's grounds, and in whatever other available space could be found. Dr.
Merton Cohen, presently emeritus Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics,
oversaw the tremendous effort made to care for and treat the large numbers of
- The West Wing of the Hospital was completed.
- Henry Donald Hamilton became the Hospital's Administrator.
1960s & 70s
- New laser and micro-surgery equipment and techniques and the use of fiber
optics enabled physicians at the Hospital to perform more delicate surgeries and
examinations in a safer manner.
- The School of Nursing came to rank #30 out of 106 nursing schools in
- Virginia Mcilroy became Director of Nursing Education. Under her guidance,
the School of Nursing would attain the highest of academic standards and
- The dedication for the $1 million East Wing of the Hospital was held. It
made another 56 beds available.
- Dr. Irene Laub resigned from the active staff. She was the first
board-certified physician at Easton Hospital. She was also acting Chief of
Medicine during World War II.
- Expansion of the Laboratory into a full-service,
Laboratory was to take place under the direction of Dr. William A. Harada.
- Several new medical and surgical services, including Neurosurgery, Thoracic
Surgery, Hematology, Gastroenterology, and Neurology were added as medical
services at the Hospital. To accommodate these and other needs, a new Intensive
Care and Coronary Care unit was provided.
- Medicare gave a great boost to admission of elderly people and, like Blue
Cross, provided a source of income for the Hospital.
- The Outpatient department was enlarged and remodeled. A new Emergency
department and an 18-bed Psychiatric unit were constructed.
- An affiliation was begun for rotation of students between Hahnemann
University School of Medicine in Philadelphia and Easton Hospital.
- Dr. Lee Serfas became first full time Chief of Surgery who did not have his
own private practice, as Dr. Horace Seidel became the first full time Chief of
Medicine without a private practice. From that time on, Easton Hospital would
have physicians paid by the Hospital to run Surgery and Medicine, mainly for the
purpose of strengthening the teaching program for residents. Until then, the
positions had been voluntary. (However, the Chiefs would however, have private
practices if they wished.)
- Dr. Serfas developed a program of Medical Education for residents. It was
solid enough to survive for more than 20 years with very few changes.
70s & 80s
- The nurses formed a Nurses Professional Association to carry out collective
bargaining with the administration. 80% of them joined the Pennsylvania Nurses
- Dr. William Johnson, Chairman of the Building and Equipment committee, as
well as Director of the Department of Radiology, poured his considerable
energies into acquiring updated equipment for the Hospital.
- The Delivery Room Suite was modernized.
- The new Rehabilitation Wing was dedicated. It was for the treatment of
patients recovering from stroke, hip surgery, and accident injuries.
- The Hospital acquired an Automatic Chemical Analyzer for the Laboratory and
a gamma camera for the nuclear medicine division of Radiology.
- Dr. Richard Relkin replaced Dr. Horace Seidel as Director of the Department
- The Short Procedure Unit was opened, as well as a ten-bed Surgical Intensive
- The Easton Hospital School of Nursing was closed because it was said to be
too costly for its value to the Hospital and because the training of student
nurses could just as well be done at the local community college.
- Tuberculosis had been almost completely eradicated through public health
controls and antibiotics.
- A wide variety of surgical and medical specialists were to be found on the
medical staff, even though physicians were by now required to get board
certification to practice a medical or surgical specialty at the Hospital.
- Cardiac Catheterization lab opened.
- Government regulations concerning quality assurance became more and more
stringent, considerably increasing paper work at the Hospital.
- A great increase in the number of outpatient versus traditional inpatient
services was taking place.
- Newly constructed Northwest Wing occupied.
- Special help for cancer patients was available to patients and their
families through the Hospital's multidisciplinary Cancer Support and Hospice
- Began sonography in Radiology, a non-invasive method of imaninq both solid
and cystic masses.
- A Department of Pastoral Care with a full-time Chaplain was added to the
Hospital's services, which, for several years, had included a corps of Volunteer
Chaplains from the community.
by the late 70s
- Dr. Kenneth Kramer joined the Medical Staff. Dr. Kramer was to become a key
force in updating the Radiology Department as its Director.
- There had been many developments in the services offered at the Hospital.
Cardiology had been expanded. Cardiovascular Rehabilitation programs were
initiated, and a dedicated Rehabilitation Unit was in place. There was a
specialist in Infectious Diseases and one in Neurosurgery. Outlook House, an
outpatient facility for those with mental or emotional difficulties, was staffed
and its programs started.
- The Hospital had a variety of Outpatient Clinics, including Allergy,
Pediatric, Dental, Endocrine, Ear/Nose/Throat, Eye, Gastrointestinal,
Genitourinary, Cardiac, Hematology, Medical, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Pulmonary,
and Obstetric. In addition, Tuberculosis, Planned Parenthood, and Venereal
Disease Clinics are scheduled regularly under the auspices of other agencies.
- Began Birthing Room, a homelike room which allows the participation of
family during labor and delivery
- Began screening for cancer of the colon and rectum in conjunction with the
American Cancer Society
- Radiology acquired a new gamma camera with a
mini- computer attachment.
- Dr. David Feinberg served his final year as president of the Easton Hospital
Board of Trustees. Dr. Feinberg, in his many years at the Hospital, has served
on numerous committees and boards, giving unstintingly of his time and his
concern. Was Chief of Department of Medicine.
- Easton Hospital's satellite Primary Care Center at the Slate Belt Medical
- Weller Center for Health Education opened. Its primary purpose was to
provide for health education.
- Hospital acquired a CT Scanner.
- Charles L. Keim became President of Easton Hospital. His vision, together
with that of Donna Mulholland, who became Chief Operating Officer in 1987, led
to a program of renovation and building designed to meet the most pressing of
the projected changing medical needs of the Hospital and the community.
- DRGs began - Diagnostic Related Groups, wherein hospitals were paid targeted
amounts for each Medicare patient discharged, not for costs actually incurred by
the Hospital in providing services to Medicare beneficiaries.
- ·An Intermediate Care Unit was opened to treat patients who were no longer
critical enough to require full ICU care, but who still needed special care.
- Dr. Charles Kovar became the Director of the Department of Obstetrics and
- A 27-bed unit was provided in the renovated area of the Northwest wing.
- A newly completed 14-bed Short Procedure Unit was built in the space
previously occupied by the Operating Room.
- A $500,000 Digital Subtraction Angiography Unit was added to the Department
of Radiology to permit the visualization of arteries after an intravenous
injection of contrast material.
- A totally dedicated Oncology Unit was opened, staffed by oncology nurses.
by the late 80s
- The Hospital had a specialist in Metabolic Disorders. Outpatient services
had been further expanded.
- The Board of Trustees recast the corporation of Easton Hospital into a
system consisting of a parent corporation (Valley Health) and three subsidiaries
(Easton Hospital, Valley Health Foundation, and Valley Health Services). Valley
Health Foundation was established in 1987 to spearhead campaigns for future
building and renovation projects and raise funds for new equipment and new
programs. Valley Health Services was created, also in 1987, as a for-profit
corporation to provide financial and legal flexibility to develop needed health
- Dr. Kenneth Wildrick became Director of the Department of Medicine and Dr.
George Watkins became the Director of the Department of Surgery.
- Radiology acquired a $750,000 linear accelerator as the final component in
the Hospital's plan to become a comprehensive cancer center.
- A new Nd:YAG laser was acquired through the Women's Board to enable Hospital
physicians to perform laser angioplasty, a procedure that vaporizes plaque in
- Julianna Burkle retired as Vice President of Nursing after 20 years with the
Hospital. She was instrumental in seeing that nurses routinely were included on
Hospital committees with physicians.
- A 3-D CT Scanner was installed, replacing an older model
- In this fiscal year, the Hospital performed 2,356,077 procedures or services
for inpatients, and 496,559 for outpatients.
- Easton Hospital became one of the three top employers in the community,
licensed for 369 beds and employing 1,300 people.
- For treatment of heart disease, the Hospital added a Cardiac Stress lab, and
an EKG (electrocardiogram) suite.
- The Emergency Care Unit was averaging more than 35,000 cases a year, making
it the busiest such unit in the Lehigh Valley.
- The Laboratory experienced a 30% increase in procedures between 1984 and
1988. Part of the reason for this increase was that the quality of the work done
at the Easton Hospital Lab was so high that a number of its tests were (and
still are) being regularly requested by other hospitals in the Valley.
- Between 1984 and 1988, the Short Procedure Unit had a 75% increase in the
number of its procedures.
- Work was completed on a 9-story parking garage.
- Work began on a new $13.5 million ambulatory care building. It was to
provide expanded space for the Lab, to centralize Registration, to expand space
for the Short Procedure Unit, and to give the Emergency Care Unit new and larger
- New affiliation agreement was signed with Hahneman University School of
Medicine, expanding our residency program to include third-year medical
students. This agreement gave even greater recognition to the Hospital's
standing as a teaching hospital.
- Began return to a policy used in the 40s of putting patients with similar
diagnoses together (as on a Genitourinary floor). This change was brought about
to make it easier for physicians to see all of their patients and to increase
rapport and teamwork between nurses and physicians as they dealt repeatedly with
the same area of illness or injury and with each other.
- After 45 years of service to the Hospital, Kathryn Sabatino, RN, for many
years the highly regarded supervisor of the Operating Room and later a Clinical
Director, became Director of Nursing, directly under the Vice President of
- Hospital implemented a hospital-wide policy against smoking
- An Industrial Rehabilitation Center was opened for the purpose of retraining
injured workers to become productive again.
- An inpatient Renal Dialysis unit was opened.
- A satellite facility to provide primary care to the Wind Gap area was opened
under the auspices of Valley Health Services.
- Work is moving forward on the development of an off-site Imaging Center with
Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
- In October, Easton Hospital is acquired by Community Health Systems. The
news came a year after Easton Hospital announced the decision to seek a capital
- The Visiting Nurse Association of Easton is renamed Easton Hospital Home
- Dr. Antonio Panebianco, one of the most experienced and respected heart
surgeons in the region, was named Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery.