Local News Archive
Print Issue: January 4, 1963
St. Mary's Hospital Construction Soon
ATHENS—Construction will soon begin on the new five-story St. Mary’s Hospital here. This was announced by W. A. Mathis, president of St. Mary’s Advisory Board.
Financing of the new building, the estimated cost of which will be some $3,000,000, is to be aided by federal funds under the Hill-Burton Act. Other financing has been arranged through a local fund drive of 1959, which resulted in pledges of $376,785. Some $261,000 of this has already been collected.
In addition, The Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, who operate the hospital, are investing $1,500,000 from the order’s funds. The 17 sisters who staff the hospital also are contributing some $250,000 from their Sisters’ Fund raised through their donated services.
Of a fireproof construction, the hospital will be of reinforced concrete frame. The exterior walls will be made of special pre-cast concrete panels and brick masonry. All rooms will be air-conditioned.
There will be 75 private rooms and 25 semi-private rooms. According to Mother Wilfrida, administrator of St. Mary’s, this arrangement of rooms will provide more efficient and economical operation of the new hospital. There will be two five-bed intensive care rooms for the critically ill. All patient rooms will have private toilets or baths.
There will be five operating rooms and two delivery rooms with nurseries for 30 newborn babies. Complete laboratory and X-ray departments, with radioisotope facilities are included in the plans. The emergency department will be provided with all life saving equipment. The outpatient department will be pediatric, pre- and postnatal, dental, heart and geriatric clinics as well as to supplement the emergency department in disaster conditions.
All rooms will have a two-way nurses call system. Oxygen will be piped to all patient rooms and other critical areas.
The reality of a new St. Mary’s Hospital is the climax of many years in planning, encouragement and discouragements. Originally plans were for construction of a wing on the present St. Mary’s Hospital on Milledge Avenue. A local St. Mary’s building fund drive was conducted in 1958-59. Headed by Howell C. Erwin; the effort resulted in pledges and contributions of $376,785.
It was found that the new wing would not provide the areas needed for expansion. It was also found that additional money could not be provided through Hill-Burton funds or loans to invest in the old building.
New plans developed on the encouragement that finances could be possible if an entirely new St. Mary’s Hospital was constructed. From the original fund drive money was invested in the 18.6 acres of land on Baxter Street. For four years intensive work by local citizens and the sisters has been going on to achieve the goal of a new building.
“Our dream has come true through the sincere, dedicated efforts of the people of Athens”, Mother Wilfrida, hospital administrator, stated this week. “The reality of our new hospital could not have been possible without the guidance and hard work of such men as Mr. Mathis and Mr. Erwin,” the mother said.
Equally impressed with the efforts of local civic leaders was the Rev. Mother M. Elizabeth, provincial supervisor of the Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus order from Reading, Penn. The Rev. Mother and her assistant Sister Antonnette came to Atlanta for the closing of negotiations with the Hill-Burton administrators recently.
Sister Renata, Mother Wilfrida’s assistant at St. Mary’s, was also present at the final negotiations. Sister Renata is treasurer of the local corporation operating St. Mary’s and Mother Wilfrida is president.