Grant Memorial Hospital History
Grant Memorial Hospital opened in April 1958 to provide inpatient and outpatient services to the citizens of the Upper South Branch Valley. The opening culminated more than two years of work by many dedicated officials and citizens of the area.
In late 1955, the Petersburg Kiwanis Club learned that Grant County could qualify for federal Hill-Burton construction funds to construct a hospital for the area. A survey was conducted to determine if there was interest in taking advantage of this opportunity.
The initial moves were taken through the Grant County Press, under the direction of Ralph Welton. The response of the citizens was overwhelming enthusiasm for the project.
The Grant County Commission initiated an investigation on how the project might be financed in addition to the Hill-Burton funds. The site for the hospital was donated by the Grove heirs on historic Fort Hill overlooking Petersburg, with a commanding view in three directions.
A committee consisting of Ralph B. Welton, Galen Duling, James Breathed, David E. Cuppett, Jr., V.L. Dyer, MD, L.T. Veach, MD, and M.F. Townsend, MD, was organized and, together with the County Commission, investigated the financing and other aspects of the project with state agencies in Charleston. David H. Trenton later joined the committee, and much credit has been given to Ralph Welton and Dave Cuppett as the primary force behind the planning, development, and construction of the hospital.
It was determined that the county would provide 39 percent of the construction cost, with Hill-Burton contributing 61 percent. The Grant County Commission authorized the holding of a special levy election to raise the necessary funds for the county’s share. The election was held March 3, 1956. Although just a 60 percent majority was necessary, the levy was approved by a margin of 95 percent.
The architectural firm of L.D. Schmidt & Son of Fairmont, West Virginia, was employed to prepare the drawings and specifications for the project. Bids for the project were received in July 1956, and it was found that an additional $75,000 was required in order to award the contract.
In order to obtain the necessary $75,000 to start construction, a drive for funds by popular subscription was held. Contributions were solicited from Grant and the surrounding counties. The drive was successful, and the effort resulted in $81,000 being contributed. This effort by many citizens within the tri-county area saved the project from being lost and resulted in the ultimate construction of the hospital.
The contract for construction was awarded to Thorington Construction of Richmond, Virginia. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on October 2, 1956, at which time members of the Grant County Commission, along with the Board of Trustees and a group of devoted workers, formally turned the first spade-full of dirt. Construction was completed in the spring of 1958, and the hospital officially opened in April 1958.
The hospital initially consisted of 46 beds with ancillary services of x-ray, laboratory, surgery, obstetrics, and emergency room. The total cost for the hospital at the time of its opening amounted to $836,298.
The initial Board of Trustees consisted of James Breathed, Carl Weimer, T.E. Schaeffer, Galen Duling, D.E. Cuppett, Jr., Harman Hartman, David H. Trenton, and Dr. W.C. VanMeter. The initial medical staff consisted of Drs. L.T. Veach, V.L. Dyer, C.E. King, G.E. Hartle, M.F. Townsend, H.J. Maxwell, C.A. Liebig, and L.M. Hutson as active members. Courtesy staff members included Drs. J.A. Love, R.M. Love, H.W. Rollings, Jr., Samuel Bucher, M.H. Maxwell, Charles J. Sites, Luther Rexrode, Luke Eye, and J.D. Mathias. Dr. V.L. Dyer served as the first chief of staff.
As of 2018, the hospital has had five administrators: William J. Anderson (1958-1960), James Breathed (1960-1965), Robert L. Harman (1965-2011), Mary Beth Barr (2011-2018), and Robert W. Milvet (2018-present).
In 1969, the hospital had experienced several years of high occupancy and the Board of Trustees conducted a study to determine the need to expand the facility’s capacity. Conferences were again held with officials in Charleston to determine available financing. It was concluded that Hill-Burton funds were again available for a possible expansion program, with the county sharing part of the cost.
The decision was made to expand the hospital by 50 beds, with emphasis being placed on skilled nursing care. The community again approved by a record vote the issuance of general obligation bonds to meet the county’s share of the construction cost.
Construction of the addition to the hospital started in 1971, and the new addition opened in September 1972. At that time, the hospital consisted of 96 beds, with expanded facilities in emergency care and outpatient treatment.
In 1983, a dramatic decrease in the number of patients utilizing the hospital as a result of revised Medicare reimbursement policies saw the hospital decrease it beds in service from 96 to 59. At the same time, there was a movement to treat more patients on an outpatient basis, which resulted in the expansion of most outpatient service areas.
The hospital operates as a critical access hospital, with 25 licensed and staffed beds for acute and swing-bed services, an expanded array of outpatient and outreach services, and a broad base of home-care services for the citizens of Grant, Hardy, Pendleton, Mineral, and Hampshire counties.
In 1993, the Board of Trustees began plans to renovate and expand various sections of the hospital. The original hospital structure was approaching 40 years of age, and many areas needed to be expanded and renovated.
A special election was held in Grant County to solicit approval for an excess levy and a general obligation bond issue. The issue was approved by a 64 percent majority, and construction started in 1995.
In 1996, the new Emergency Department opened, and over the next 18 months various other areas of the hospital were completed and put into operation, culminating in a rededication of the facility on December 3, 1998.
The Board of Trustees, which is appointed by the Grant County Commission, is authorized to operate the hospital and is responsible for appointing the medical staff. The Board is responsible for maintaining a high level of quality in the services provided by the hospital and medical staff, and is the ultimate authority in all areas of governance of the facility. The Board consists of individuals who come from the geographic area served by the hospital. Each member of the Board is appointed for a six-year term and is limited to no more than two consecutive terms.