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 the Hospital


  • 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 Department.
  • 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 pneumonias.
  • 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 in time.


  • Dr. James J. Quiney was appointed pathologist for the hospital. He also acted as the Hospital’s first radiologist, performing both therapeutic and diagnostic procedures for cancer patients. At this time, when most babies were delivered at home, Dr. Quiney also acted as the hospital’s obstetrician. Dr. Quiney’s son, Dr. James Quiney, a family practitioner, was later to become a member of the Medical Staff.

    A total of 552 inpatients and 750 dispensary patients were treated.


  • 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 service.

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 many years.)


  • 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.


  • The Hospital established its own Group Hospitalization Plan, the first such plan organized in Pennsylvania, and based on a similar Texas plan. It was introduced by Superintendent A.R. Hazzard and the President of the Board of Trustees, David B. Skillman, Esq. This was the origin of the Blue Cross Plan of Lehigh Valley.

    Coronary thrombosis was mentioned in a diagnosis at the Hospital, along with many other types of heart disease.

  • Typhoid fever was on the downswing, pneumonias had stayed the same, and there were more than 50 patients with tuberculosis.
  • In surgery, all forms of abdominal, urological, and gynecological surgeries were performed.


  • 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 Urology.


  • 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 nursing classes.


  • 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 patients.


  • 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.


  • Dr. Louis Burkley became emeritus Associate in Obstetrics, having delivered more than 5,000 babies since 1921. By 1968, he was the only member left of the closed medical staff at the original Easton Hospital location on Wolf Street. His son, Dr. Louis F. Burkley III, was Chief of the Obstetrical and Gynecological Service.

    A Department of Social Service was begun at the Hospital to act as liaison between the patient and the community or the home, depending on need.


  • The School of Nursing came to rank #30 out of 106 nursing schools in Pennsylvania.


  • Virginia Mcilroy became Director of Nursing Education. Under her guidance, the School of Nursing would attain the highest of academic standards and performance.


  • 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,
    state-of-the-art 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 Association.
  • 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 of Medicine.


  • The Short Procedure Unit was opened, as well as a ten-bed Surgical Intensive Care Unit.
  • 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.

by 1976

  • 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 Team.
  • 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 Center opens.


  • 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 Gynecology.
  • 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 services.


  • 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 leg arteries.
  • 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.

by 1988

  • 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 quarters
  • 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 Nursing.
  • 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 strategic partner.


  • The Visiting Nurse Association of Easton is renamed Easton Hospital Home Health Services.
  • Dr. Antonio Panebianco, one of the most experienced and respected heart surgeons in the region, was named Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery.