The frontier. (O'Neill City, Holt County, Neb.) 1880-1965, September 25, 1952, St. Anthony's Hospital Magazine Supplement, Image 12

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    Story of O’Neills
New Hospital
Six - Year Interval in
Start to Finish
By CAL STEWART
Editor, The Frontier
The formal dedication day for
O’Neill’s new hospital — St.
Anthony’s—is at hand.
On Friday, September 26, the
new and magnificent building
will admit its first patients.
With appropriate ceremony
and celebration the O’Neill med
ical center steps into a place of
prominence in the ranks of mid
western medical institutions.
But the dedication day fan
fare and opening dav formalities
are not the real hospital storv.
The real storv can never be told
in a detailed manner because
of the complexities. To recount
all the hopes, struggles, problems,
even disappointments, would fill
volumes.
Turn back the pages to the
spring of 1946, the year when
the nucleous of hospital interest
was formed.
In that year a committee was
organized and William J. Froe
lich, an O’Neill man who enjoys
a successful law practice in Chi
cago, 111., was made general
chairman. At that stage a rough
estimate of the cost of the pro
posed hospital indicated the
amount would fall between 210
and 225-thousand-dollars. It was
initially thought that the Sisters
of St. Francis, who would own
and operate the institution,
would assume the indebtedness
of perhaps 60-thousand-dollars.
L. C. Walling and the late
P. B. Harty were designated as
cochairmen of the fund-raising
committee. Response to the orig
inal appeal was immediate and,
to say the least, overwhelming.
In a few short months 50-thou
sand-dollars had been given by
individuals from O’Neill and
vicinity. Moreover, the money
was in the bank! There were
pledges coming in, too, enabling
donors to extend their gift over
a number of years.
At that point the progress
was retarded. There was a
drastic change in architectual
plans and there were problems
arisino from the federal gov
ernment gTani.
Overcongestion of hospitals in
metropolitan areas compelled
the government to assist in an ex
tensive hospital - building pro
gram through-out the length
and-breadth of the land. After
all. expectant mothers had bPen
getting out of the habit of giv
ing birth to babies around the
home fireside. It had become
fashionable — if not downright
sensible and practical—to enter
a hospital. The mortalitv rate of
infants dropped sensationallv as
this transition earn" about.
Moreover with a swelling popu
lation the need for more and
MOTHER ERICA RETURNS.
Mother M. Erica (above), the
former Agnes Hughes of Battle
Creek, is a St. Mary’s academy
graduate. She headed the Sis
ters of St. Francis Provincial
Mother House in Denver, Colo.,
when the O’Neill hospital plan
was posed, and actively par
ticipated in the various stages
of development.
SUPERIOR OF THE HOSPITAL SISTERS . . . Mother M.
Bertrand (above), the former Alice Fleming of O'Neill, arrived
in July, 1952, to head the Sisters of St. Francis who are assigned
to St. Anthony’s.
better hospital facilities was a
critical need in the land; hence,
government grants — outright
gifts, if you please—were made
available. ,
But, of course, there was the
matter of conforming. To con
form to government regulations
a bigger, costlier hospital was
substituted for the 225-thousand
dollar plan.
But let’s get on with the
story.
Mr. Froelich, whose business
kept him away from O’Neill for
extended periods of time and
out of immediate contact with
the hospital move, resigned in
favor of an on-the-scene leader.
Mr. Froelich, however, had per
formed a great service. He had
helped start the ball rolling and
had established the liaison and
enlisted the full support of gov
ernmental agencies.
In March, 1949, a real hero in
the hospital story made his ap
.» *_*.
pearance. James M. Corkle,
O'Neill hatcheryman, was ap
pointed general chairman of the
hospital building committee.
From that moment until the
dedication, Mr. Corkle and a
handful of close aides have
formed the pillar of strength,
have guided the financial drives
and they have paid heavily in
working out time - consuming
problems.
The building committee's
first problem was a matter of
44-thousand-dollars to add to
the 56-thousand-dollars already
gathered. It was agreed that
the 100-thousand dollar mark
had to be accumulated, hence
the 44-lhousand-dollar goal.
The quest for the “44” and.
how it was attained is an amaz
in story of generosity and coop
eration at the community level.
Folks with means, God bless
them, had forthwith produced
the “56”. The “44” came slowly
and laboriously, yet surely, and
hardly a man, woman or child
in the community did not play
a role in writing that chapter in
the hospital’s history.
The anonyomous people who
participated are legion. Besides
backing up Uncle Sam’s partici
pation, which ultimately was to
amount to 53 percent of the
bill, they contrived and schemed
and many gave until it hurt. Tr.e
spirit that purvaded the whole
scene pointed up the fact the
“paper hospital” one day would
be exactly what has come to
pass—a community hospital ef
the highest order.
Thus without the help of the
entire community the new
O’Neill hospital could not have
been. And, except for the pros
pect of the continued universal
(Continued on back page).
I .. tSfSrafefflEflL. - * w^4h&*;M6..-.-- ££. * nai . ■ ..
Discussing blueprints during the earliest construction stages—
August, 1950—are Edgar L. Coleman of the Frank N. McNett &
Co., architectural firm; Walter Voss of O'Neill, employee of
James Davidson & Sons plumbing and heating firm, and Olaf
Mathisen of Salina, Kans., construction superintendent.
(PETERSEN clothing!
♦ ♦ »«
“Quality, Guaranteed Merchandise”
it ••
♦ ♦ «♦
♦ ♦
♦♦ ♦♦
!j Say . . .
♦♦
“Congratulations! Well Done!”
H
♦♦
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»♦ ♦♦
••
::
| —to the SISTERS OF ST. FRANCIS who have
B assumed a tremendous responsibility.
*♦ —to those persons whose gifts, large and small,
B have made possible ST. ANTHONY’S.
tz. * •
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tt —to O’Neill . . . the queen city of North Ne
tt braska . . . now on the march!
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