West Jersey Hospital

West Jersey Hospital Mt. Ephraim Avenue & Atlantic Avenue, Camden, NJ 1887

Mount Ephraim Avenue at Atlantic Avenue

This text is primarily from Camden County Medical Society 1846 – 1956, published by the Camden County Medical Society, 1957.

West Jersey Hospital opened in 1885, for the purpose of giving relief to the sick who were poor. It bore the name of “Camden Homeopathic Hospital and Dispensary Association,” and was the first successful attempt in Camden to establish an institution which would offer treatment to “worthy persons unable to employ a Homeopathic physician.” It was intended for women especially.

On February 5, 1885, the new organization elected officers, the Honorable E. A. Armstrong serving as its first president. Property at Fourth and Arch Streets was rented, and opened for patients in late April of 1885.

At the annual meeting of the Association, on July 30, 1887, the organization was made a stock concern, the value of the stock being fixed at twenty-five dollars a share. Only those prepared to take up such shares of stock were allowed further voice in the affairs of the organization. The new Association retained the old officers already elected, and chose a Board of Directors as well as a new Auxiliary Board of Ladies.

During the following year, the Board of Directors bought the property on the southwest corner of West and Stevens Streets, and the hospital was transferred to this new location. In the fall of 1890, because of lack of financial support, the Association voted to close the hospital, most of the equipment being disposed of by sale. The Dispensary was kept open to fulfill its contract with the city, which did not expire until June, 1891.

In April, 1891, steps were taken to organize a new association to take up the city contract, and so to continue the equable division between the Homeopathic and Allopathic schools of medicine.

On April 30, 1891, a meeting of those interested resulted in the decision to form a new organization. The name adopted was The West Jersey Homeopathic Dispensary and Hospital Association. At the first meeting of the Board of Trustees on May 15, 1891, officers were elected, Walter M. Patton being chosen president, and articles of incorporation were signed. The Board of Trustees rented the property at 3 North Fifth Street, and opened a dispensary.

At the next meeting in December, the old organization proposed the sale of their original building. An agreement was finally reached by which the new organization acquired all the property and contract rights of the old institution.

After appropriate preparation, the building at West and Stevens Streets was opened as a hospital for women and children. For the first time in the city of Camden, hospital facilities were provided for the care of confinement cases.

In 1901, the property adjoining 432 Stevens Street was purchased and equipped for hospital purposes. In 1902, it was opened for male patients. In 1904, two adjoining open lots were purchased by Charles A. Reynolds and C. W. Nichols, and donated to the institution. In 1909, the growth of the hospital necessitating further expansion, a tract of six acres, known as the Kaighn Farm, was purchased, becoming the site on which the present buildings are located. An old building on this property was adapted for a nurses’ home.

In 1914, the new building, with a capacity of one hundred forty-four beds, was completed at a cost of $145,268.00, including equipment.

Generous gifts from Mr. S. Canning Childs, of Collingswood, made further expansion possible. In 1924, Mr. Childs gave to the hospital the building which was to be known as the Frances Childs Maternity Building, this being completed in March, 1926. In April, 1925 Mr. Childs donated $250,000.00 for the purpose of building a Children’s Hospital, this being completed and opened for patients in June, 1927. Mr. Childs also gave an additional sum to the hospital’s Endowment Fund.

In May 1925, the Board of Trustees approved the construction of a new nurses’ home, the Charles A. Reynolds Nurses’ Hall. Completed in October, 1927, at a cost of $151,689.00, the hall accommodated sixty-eight nurses.

During the depression, and throughout World War II, West Jersey doctors and nurses, at home and on the war fronts, wrote their own chapter of accomplishment. West Jersey grew in stature.

The West Jersey School of Nursing, founded in 1895, with a class of four students, today has eighty-nine students. It was the first school of nursing in South Jersey to earn the interest of Dr. Leonard Felix Fuld, president of the nationally recognized Helene Fuld Health Foundation, established to promote student health programs. In 1953, the first Helene Fuld Nurses’ Residence was built and put into operation. In 1954, a second Fuld grant made possible the Nursing Arts Classroom and Lecture Hall.

In 1956, the modern Frances Childs Maternity Section was completed, being dedicated on October 19th. In the same year were provided new pathology laboratories and new temporary patient quarters.

Other expansion projects completed since 1952, are the following: an electric sub-station; a change from DC to AC current in nursing buildings; re-piping, to accommodate a new heating system and a renovated boiler room; an up-to-date maintenance program; new operating rooms to replace those which have been outgrown; a new x-ray department, which adds radio active isotope and heart catheterization equipment to services of this area, and increased patient parking facilities.

The following have served as presidents of the Board of Trustees and as Chiefs of Staff, from the opening of the hospital in 1885 to the present date, 1957.

Presidents of The Board of TrusteesChiefs of Staff
Hon. E. A. ArmstrongE. M. Howard, M. D.
Walter M. PattonGeorge D. Woodward, M.D.
Charles A. PrinceCharles F. Hadley, M.D
Charles H. KnowltonLee E. Griscom, M.D.
C. W. NicholsEarl G. Hallinger, M.D.
Charles A. ReynoldsCharles F. Hadley, M.D
Charles W. RussH. Wesley Jack, M.D.
Lee E. Griscom, M.D.Elliott C. Shull, M.D
Arthur W. Lewis
Edward H. Ellis, Jr.

In 1952, William N. Morrison succeeded David Kenerson as administrator of the hospital.

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