What do you remember about Port Allegany Community Hospital?


At the moment I am talking about the hospital on Pine Street, although I know some readers remember the one on West Mill.


Do you remember a pledge drive to build the hospital, and at least one other pledge drive to expand it? There was borrowing involved, to be sure, and maybe some government help, but it was not always assumed that every community facility was paid for in part or mainly through “grants” from other levels of government, or from outside entities. The community needed a hospital (or school or whatever) and the community paid for one—whatever kind it could afford.


We probably didn’t have much unemployment at the time, and although we had some poor families, we didn’t have subsidized housing for them, so far as I know, so we weren’t as keenly aware of them.


Do you remember the school district providing the building site for the hospital, using land it owned from the Smith estate? The Smith House (or mansion) was used for some of our instruction, including band and home ec. We cooked in the kitchen, practiced housekeeping skills, sewed in the sewing room upstairs. After the Church Street School burned, elementary grades had classrooms there.


No longer needed for instructional purposes, the Smith House came down to make way for the hospital. The Smith Annex remained.


PACH was a good little hospital. Emergency admissions and regular admissions kept it pretty full in many of its years. There was a great little obstetrical department. I know Doc Baker (the DO with the ob-gyn specialty, not the civil engineer) delivered babies there, and for sure Doc Niles did, and I don’t know who all else. Some doctor delivered Jason Tronetti there, he told the groundbreaking ceremony attendees Friday.


Do you remember the food service, and Kathy O’Connor? Dr. Sankari, Dr. Isserman, Dr. Guenther, Dr. Metz?


What administrators do you remember? Ben Carotenuto, Jeffrey Drop?


Do you remember controller Duane Baumgarner and head of nursing Anna Michelitsch? Remember the radiology department and Leo Smithmyer? Later, was there a Butterfield?


Do you remember the great doctor strike? The contracted ER staff? The out-sourcing of administration to Geisinger Medical Management? The arrangement with Charles Cole Memorial Hospital?


Do you remember the hospital auxiliary? The fund-raisers such as cookbooks and dances? Seems to me the Snow Ball or the Valentine Ball raised money for hospital needs.


Do you remember the volunteers? There were Grey Ladies and Candy Stripers. Mrs. Hagstrom brought TV sets to the rooms where patients or family had ordered them, and maybe she was involved with taking books and magazines to patients who wanted those. Remember the volunteer switchboard operators (the Phonies)?


The hospital as built lacked heat insulation generally, and energy-efficient windows. Some insulation and air condition were added later, but I remember the air conditioning being out of order sometimes, and patient rooms being cooled only by portable fans.


Do you remember annual meetings? We were all members if we were adult residents of the service area. Once a year (in the fall, I think) the big membership meeting was held, sometimes in the social rooms of the Methodist Church. Annual reports were given. Officers and directors were elected. Questions were asked and answered. Sometimes individuals were honored for volunteer service or staff service milestones.


I remember attending and covering those meetings. Also, I remember attending many board meetings. Those were held monthly, and they were open to the public, and they had press coverage as a matter of course, just like school board and borough council meetings.


Board members and officers included people from throughout what is now our school district, for the hospital’s service area included those other municipalities in addition to the borough.


Board members included businessmen and professionals and present or former county commissioners and school administrators and housewives and captains of industry and farmers and union folks.


If you have clear recollections of this stuff, you are crowding 40 (from in front or behind), because the hospital as such has been gone about 25 years.


Having pointed that out, I am still inviting you to share your PACH memories with us in this space. And if you have some photos, those would be great. Send me high-resolution scans or originals, if you can.