Yes, we do and we plan to do even more. NMC is deeply rooted in our community, with a history of caring that dates back to 1883. NMC was established more than 130 years ago when Chauncey Warner bequeathed assets for the establishment of what would become the first St. Albans Hospital. In 1947, Jeanne Kerbs donated funds to build a new hospital in appreciation for the efforts of local physicians in saving the life of her injured son. These two hospitals merged in the late 1970’s to form Northwestern Medical Center and we ultimately consolidated onto our current campus at the top of Fairfield Street in the early 1990’s. As a tribute to that history and to honor those who have supported our community hospital through philanthropy over the years, we do have some historic images and documents on display near our main switchboard, including a copy of the original deed from Chauncey Warner and a beautiful black and white photograph of Jeanne Kerbs helping set the cornerstone of the Kerbs Memorial Hospital. In addition, the hallway which connects our main entrance to our Emergency Department features many of the plaques which celebrate supporters and recognize donors from over the years at both facilities. There is still more medical history at the St. Albans Historical Museum. They have a wonderful collection that is well worth a visit.
As attention has naturally been focused on providing patient care and meeting community need over the decades, our history has not been preserved as intentionally and as comprehensively as it could have been. We are working to improve on that, as there is great value in understanding the history of where we came from and the evolution of hospital care in our community. There is much to be celebrated, including the care provided and those who have provided it as well as the generosity of donors who helped make it all possible. We should do a better job of that!
For a short term improvement, we have convened a group of local residents to advise us on how to proceed. There have been questions over the years of what the hospital should do with plaques that honor donors when the area for that plaque is repurposed from its original intention as the facility evolves. Many of those are featured on our “wall of recognition” between the main entrance and the Emergency Department, but some are not. We are currently working on bringing the remaining plaques out of storage and redeploying them either on that wall or in other appropriate areas within the facility.
Longer term, as we work through the details of the projects within our proposed Master Facility Plan to adapt the hospital facility to better meet the needs of a changing healthcare system and a growing community, we are looking at how we can better highlight our history and our supporters in the future. I have long had a vision for a new multi-media display that will better chronicle the hospital’s history. We envision an artistic and educational approach with imagery, perhaps materials on loan from the museum, and a short video speaking to our history. We are in the process of creating that video and I am very excited about how it is coming together. It is wonderful to hear community members, medical staff members, and hospital staff join in recounting our history and celebrating our future. That video will debut at public meetings to update the community on our Master Facility Plan this Fall, so stay tuned! Our new history area will blend beautifully into a new approach to commemorating the generosity of our donors and other supporters over the years. It is very exciting to have this planning in motion!
The entire Northwestern Medical Center team values our long-standing role in the community and deeply appreciates our community entrusting its care to us. We appreciate our history and all the efforts of so many people who have helped get us to where we are today. We are pleased to celebrate those contributions and look forward to doing an even better job of chronicling our history and honoring our supporters in the future.
— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer