Gives Hospital to Home City

John W. Blodgett Will Replace U. B. A. Building with Fine New One


Board Realizes by Raising Debt of $34,000

(Article in Evening Press, November 8, 1910)

Donor Promises to Erect New Structure on Site of Other Within Next Three Years.

Grand Rapids is to have a model hospital. The old U. B. A. Institution is to be replaced by a thoroughly modern and fireproof structure of equal or greater size than the present building with every feature along the very latest practice in hospital construction.

John W. Blodgett is to make the magnificent gift to the U. B. A. and so indirectly to the city and it is expected that the building will be completed within three years. Formal announcement of thes facts will be made at the postponed annual meeting of the hospital board which will be held tonight and at this meeting, too, will be written the final chapter in one of the most earnest and whole-hearted campaign for a worthy cause ever carried on in the city.

It was more than a year ago that Mr. Blodgett first intimated his willingness to erect a new modern structure in place of the old hospital building, long since admitted incapable of meeting the demands of the constantly growing service. At that time the books of the association showed an indebtedness of $34,500.

Made Offer A Year Ago

A large portion of this debt was contracted when the nurses home was built. In the letter to the hospital board Mr. Blodgett volunteered to erect a new building if the board members by their own efforts would raise the indebtedness than outstanding. When this offer was made known Mr. Blodgett’s name was withheld. Mr. Blodgett’s letter contained the promise that the new hospital would be fully as large and perhaps larger than the present building, that it would be modern in every way and would be absolutely fireproof.

With this great incentive to stir it into strenuous action the hospital board appointed a special soliciting committee, consisting of W.H. Gay, George Hefferan, John Duffy and C. S. Withey and from the day of its appointment this council has not rested in its efforts.

Slowly but steadily subscriptions were secured, cutting down the hospital indebtedness until now comes the announcement that at the meeting tonight a report will be presented showing that pledges enough have been secured to wipe out the entire amount. The pledges have ranged, it is said, from $1 to several hundred, but every donation was gratefully received by the committee.

Worked Very Quietly

During all its work there has been little noise of public agitation. The men have gone about their task earnestly sacrificing time and labor for this cause……….Pg. 11 continued

(Grand Rapids Press, November 9, 1910)

Gladly Accept It

U. B. A. Trustees Thank John W. Blodgett for Gift


Annual Reports Show 1909-1910 Greatest in History

Dr. Griswold Suggests New Building Be Named After Donor,
Who Makes It Possible

The fifty-third annual meeting of the United Benevolent association held in the nurses lodge adjoining the hospital on North College avenue last night was the most successful and eventful meeting the association ever held. It was at this meeting that the chairman of the finance committee reported the liquidation of the debt of $34,500 and the gift of a new hospital building to the association by its president, John W. Blodgett. Reports showed the hospital to be in the best condition it had ever enjoyed in its history.

Mr. Blodgett called the meeting to order and in his report spoke of criticism of city hospitals, saying:

"I find that there are still many well-intentioned persons who have an utter misconception, not only of the function, but of the object of establishing and maintaining hospitals. They seem to believe that because the hospitals solicite the support of a generous public they should throw open the doors of their institutions to everyone who is sick and suffering and treat them free of cost. They believe that we cannot properly be classed as charitable institutions because we do not carry out this idea. If this plan were followed the hospitals of this city could not be maintained six months. The public would not stand the necessary drain on the pockets. Furthermore, if the necessary funds could be collected a gross injustice would be perpetrated upon those who contributed to such an extent.

Some Cannot Pay

A majority of the patients in our hospitals are able and willing to pay a reasonable price for the services rendered and there would be no excuse for collecting money from philanthropic persons to pay the hospital bills of those who are amply able to stand the expense themselves. There are, however, many of the sick who have no support themselves and families health but who cannot afford to pay hospitals the full cost of the services each case demands. It is this deserving class which really gets the benefit of the contributions made by the public. Every hospital in this city gives treatment in its wards at much less the cost. Not sick or suffering should be turned from its doors and the deficit of cost over receipts can be secured only by appeals to our citizens……...

Miss Ida M. Barrett, superintendent, submitted a completed report in which she stated that the total number of patients admitted during the year was 1,089. The total number in the hospital ar the present time is 44. The total days treatment of patients was 16,703 at a cost of $34,828.49, an average of $2.08 to the hospital and $2.22 to the patient. The total number of operations was 777. Miss Barrett further stated that 190 sick person were cared for during the year without any expense to themselves or the city of Grand Rapids. Since the organization of the training school of the hospital its sent out 203 nurses.

The report of the treasurer, George S. Boltwood showed that the hospital operating fund for the year had amounted to $_5,676.62. The hospital expenses were $34,828.49 for salaries, repairs, supplies and sundries. Charity work amounted to $9,246.52

Miss Rosamel Rouse read a report of the Women’s auxiliary board, telling of the work done in supplying linen for hospital, paying $200 on the debt of the nurses lodge, and $3,800 for charity. Miss Rouse also read the report of the King’s Daughters showing that this society earned $269.72 and had expense $263.01. The U. B. A. Helpers report was read by Miss Helen M. Johnson showint that nine patients had been cared for and that the total receipts had been $704.63, balance on hand is $357. Mary Free Bed fund was reported by Miss Rouse to be $4,127.11. Mrs. Mary G. Dudley read a report of the Needle Work guild. The money raised during the year was $277 while a large number of articles were contributed.

Donor Be Given Thanks

George Hefferan, chairman of the finance committee, read the report of the trustees telling of the offer of Mr. Blodgett to build a new hospital so soon as the indebtedness of $34,500 could be raised and of the success of the trustees in raising this money and the consequent plans to be undertaken at once for the construction of a new hospital. Mr. Hefferan told of Mr. Blodgett’s suggestion to dedicate the nurses lodge to Mrs. Marian J. Withey the oldest living member of the association and the mother of the hospital -----. This report was received with much applause.

The following commendations of the debt liquidating committee consisting of Mr. Hefferan, William H. Gay, John Duffy and Charles S. Withey were adopted by the associations:

1- That the most generous offer of Mr. Blodgett be formally accepted by this association and that the thanks of this association be extended to him therefore.

2- That the thanks and appreciation of this association be extended and given to the numerous citizens of our city and to our good friends, who do not reside in our city who have so liberally responded to our efforts in providing a fund for the liquidation of the indebtedness in order to enable us to take advantage of Mr. Blodgett’s offer.

3- That Mr. Blodgett’s suggestion be adopted by the association and that our nurses home be formally dedicated to Mrs. Marian L. Withey.

Trustees were then elected as follows: Mrs. N. Fred Avery, William H. Gay, Lee M. Hutchins, Ralph Tietsoet, Lester J. Rindge and George W. Rouse to succeed themselves for the term of two years and A. W. Pompe to fill the vacancy by the death of John Widdicomb.



Site for New U. B. A. Hospital is Chosen

Gift of John W. Blodgett


(Article in the Grand Rapids Press, Monday, August 5, 1912, Pg. 2)

At an informal meeting of the trustees of the U. B. A. Hospital association held Saturday afternoon, the selection of the site for the new hospital was reaffirmed. The building, which is to be the gift of John W. Blodgett; is to be erected on a triangular piece of ground east of the city, bordering Wealthy street and looking out on Plymouth road and Sherman street.

The parcel of land which is to be purchased comprises twenty-three acres and now belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin S. Hanchett. The building to be erected will cost in the neighborhood of $500,000. Architects York & Sawyer, who have been engaged by Mr. Blodgett, are expected to comer here from New York soon and begin the work of drawing plans. It is expected the work of building will require about two years.

The choosing of this site marks the culmination of plans which have been going forward for some time. About two years ago the hospital found itself facing an indebtedness of about $35,000 and with quarters inadequate to care for the many patients constantly being taken there.

Wiped Out Old Debt

Mr. Blodgett, who had done much for the institution in the past, then came forward with a proposition to provide a new building at such a time as the association could show itself to be free from debt. Since that time members of the association have been working hard with the result they were able to take Mr. Blodgett at his word.

Tentative plans for the new hospital call for a pretentious building which will be "L" shaped and face the north. It will accommodate 100 patients, which is more than double the capacity of the present building. It will be an entirely fireproof structure and an ornament to the section of the city in which it will be built. It will be in the center of the exclusive east end residence district where the air is purest. Every allotment of land made in this district has rigid building restrictions and this insures no industrial enterprises or other buildings will be erected near which would be a handicap.

Mr. Blodgett has had in mind the erection of this building for many years and even went so far as to provide for it in his will to guard against any possible contingency interfering with his plans. He erects the building only at a cost of half a million. The site is to be purchased at a figure somewhere in the neighborhood of $60,000.


Caesarean Section Proves Successful

Unusual Operation is Performed at U. B. A. Hospital Today

In an effort to save two lives one of the most difficult operations known to surgery was attempted at U. B. A. hospital today, and from all present indications was successful. The operation known as Caesarean section was preformed on Orvilla B. Lewis, a negress, twenty-seven years of age, and as a result both she and the baby girl which was born have an excellent chance to live.

The mother is slightly deformed and this operation, which even under the most favorable circumstances is extremely dangerous to both mother and child, was resorted to. Mrs. Lewis was a former resident of this city, but now of Chicago. When advised that this difficult operation was the only hope of saving her life and that of her child, she expressed a desire to comer here to secure the services of a local physician in whom she had every confidence. On account of the circumstances U. B. A. took her in as a free patient. The operation necessitates the opening of the peritoneal cavity by means of an incision. Tradition says that Julius Caesar was born into the world in this manner and the operation received its name from this course.


Negress Does Well After Her Caesarean Operation

(Article in Grand Rapids Press, July 2, 1912, Pg. 2)

Orvilla B. Lewis, the negress who underwent an operation known as Caesarean section at U. B. A. Hospital, yesterday continues to improve. While by no means out of danger all circumstances look favorable and it is believed she will recover. The baby girl who was born to her also is doing nicely.

Transcriber: ES
Created: 21 November 2006