Holdrege’s First Hospital

Published in the July, 2017 Stereoscope

Holdrege’s First Hospital By Susan Perry

In 1906, the very first hospital was built in Holdrege by two enterprising doctors, Andrews and Giese. Christened the Midwest Hospital, it was erected on the corner of West Avenue and Hedlund Street, which was later renamed Fifth Avenue. The building was brick, 25 by 70 feet, was two stories and had a basement. It was designed with a lab, an operating room, and was touted as having the latest equipment available as well as the latest in mechanical and electrical equipment and appliances. There were rooms to accommodate between fifteen and twenty patients at one time. Both the doctors would have their offices there, but assured the community that any doctor would be welcome to use their facilities. Dr. Andrews spent several weeks receiving advanced training in surgery and “hospital work,” and in 1907, he and his partner began practicing in their new surroundings. There were partnership changes in the next few years and then Dr. Andrews had to sell the hospital because of his own health problems. A Mrs. H.D. Livingstone from Bertrand, and Dr. S.P. Gainforth, a local dentist, purchased the business and somewhere in the future, the hospital closed.We do not know how many years Holdrege was without a hospital, but in 1922 Mrs. Christiana Barnes, a registered nurse, organized the Holdrege Hospital, “which was warmly greeted by the doctors of Holdrege.” A couple of the physicians donated necessary equipment such as a sterilizer and an operating table. A two-story house at 704 Sherman was rented and she received a hospital license which was issued by the State of Nebraska, to be renewed every 6 months. “The house had five rooms on the ground floor, six on the second. One was reserved for surgery, one as a bedroom for Mrs. Barnes, who sometimes shared it with an aide, kept from her own home by press of work or bad weather, and the remaining rooms were available for patients.” A full house was considered to be ten patients, but there were times when there were as many as fourteen being cared for. A year later, the hospital was sold to Miss Lillian Steele, who managed the hospital there as well as at several other locations. 609 Grant was the first place the hospital moved; then in 1927 (?) they moved into the Brewster building; in 1929 to 303 Nobes; and in 1930, to the old Kiplinger home on Fourth Avenue. It would be interesting to know the circumstances behind the following scenario: That year, 1930, Dr. Ted Peterson approached the Christian Homes board about starting a hospital in Holdrege that the board would oversee. They approved this venture and bought the hospital for $1,634 a month from Miss Steele. She would then work for the board for a fee. A year later the board sold the hospital back to her.In 1932, the Holdrege Hospital moved to the Midwest Hospital site with Dr. Peterson and Miss Steele in partnership until 1935, when Dr. Peterson bought out Miss Steele’s portion of the business. The hospital remained at this spot until it closed.As the Holdrege Hospital location hop-scotched around town, Dr. Frank Brewster built his hospital and then his clinic on East Avenue between Fourth and Fifth Avenues. There are conflicting dates as to when the edifice was first built. We know that in the late 1920’s, a ten-bed unit was erected and in 1934, the first of five additions added the clinic. Finally, the hospital/clinic became a $23,000, 60 bed facility, which served the community and surrounding area until Phelps Memorial was constructed. —end

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