NEW LONDON HOSPITAL


New London citizens began talking about the possibility of forming a health care facility as early as 1913, but it was in September, 1918, that Drs. Roasberry and Jacoby acquired the Ketchum home at the northwest corner of East Main and Walnut Streets and set up the New London Hospital. Alice Dalaba was the matron in charge, and Martha Blackert of the Huron County Hospital became her assistant. With the advent of WWI, Florence Coleman, Alma Coleman White, Marguerite Hull, and Jennie Hull, all enrolled in nursing school, so the New London community soon had a supply of experienced workers, some of whom eventually staffed the hospital. There were nine rooms in all, and with the great flu epidemic of that time period, the New London Hospital sometimes reached its 12 patient capacity.

By 1920, a booster club had been formed to raise money for the growing concern. They obtained the support of the public through the donation of foodstuffs for resale, including fruit, vegetables, jelly, flour, butter and other kitchen necessities. C.E. Ward treated New London businessmen to a dinner in 1924 and was able to secure $3367.00 in pledges to support the move to a larger house at 54 South Main Street which had been intiated the year before. Mr. Ward further offered to be responsible for the expenses of this new hospital building for the first two years.

The D.J.C. Arnold home (built 1895), now housing the hospital, had been a residence for Daniel Joseph Comfort Arnold, founder of the Arnold-Creager Company, located just to the rear, makers of machinery for brick manufacture. The company had been sold to local investors when Mr. Arnold's health failed, and the plant had taken a toll with cutbacks during WWI. Although the plant survived into the 1930's, Mr. Arnold died Feb. 21, 1920 in Oberlin, Ohio, and the house was sold soon after.

The New London Hospital was incorporated with the State of Ohio in June, 1920, and was managed by a Board of Trustees, composed of six members, elected by the Trustees' Association -- membership, $1.00. By 1932, the Village of New London had passed a one mill levy to support the floundering hospital, and the board then consisted of seven trustees, viz.: two elected by the township, two elected by the village, two elected by the council, and the seventh (Mrs. Alice Kirkpatrick) chosen by the previous six. This group, assisted by the new tax money, reduced the hospital debt from $1,000 to $200 in the first year.

In December, 1944, the village was the recipient of a deed to the New London Hospital and the property by the owner, Miss Edith Lily, who had purchased it the year before. Miss Lily also gave a large sum of money, for the continuing operation of the facility and grounds.

By 1949, the facility had registered with the State for the care of maternity patients. At this time, the hospital offered 12 beds, 8 medical-surgical and 4 maternity, with a staff of 20 persons, including medical and osteopathic doctors from the region. A good many New London residents were born in this building prior to1949, and up through 1967, and at least three during the blizzard of 1978 as an emergency measure..

Additions were made to the New London Hospital at various times -- a waiting room, surgery area, and two-story patient room wing, but the new facility requirements for such organizations became more restrictive, and the hospital started to fail inspections. Eventually, the Medicare patients were lost, and it was not profitable to continue this small concern. But a purchaser was found in Cleveland - the Medical Services group. They continued the hospital for several years with specialty surgery and drug rehabilitation. Some of the doctors got into some trouble with the authorities, shall we say, on that last aspect of the business, and the building was closed for good as a hospital in May, 1983.

Since that time, Ronald D. Gibson, RN, has purchased the building and has maintained a series of living and business rental units, as well as hotel/hostel rooms for temporary visitors to the community. A physical therapy center is now in operation for the continuing care of patients from various hospitals. Mr. Gibson housed veterans for several years, and still has plans for a residential center for Senior Citizens as a shared living home.

Tom Neel




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