BROOKVILLE — Brookville Hospital, now known as Penn Highlands Brookville, celebrated its 100th anniversary last night in Brookville.

Those attending included current and former hospital staff, current Penn Highlands CEO Steven M. Fontaine as well as former PH Healthcare CEO Ray Graeca and former Brookville Hospital CEO Ron King among others.

A committee was formed to discuss the possibility of a hospital in Brookville in 1915, according to David Taylor. His grandfather, he noted was on that committee and his grandmother was the founder of the hospital auxiliary in the early 1920s and his mother was the first woman on the hospital’s board of directors.

Taylor talked about the early years of the hospital. The first hospital in Brookville was opened by Dr. Wayne Snyder in 1907 in his private residence on Jefferson Street.

A woman who lived on Mabon Street died in 1915. Her name, Nancy Neal, and she left $121,000 ($3 million in today’s moneyj) to the establishing of a hospital in Brookville. That year a hospital planning committee was appointed, Taylor said.

March 13, 1915, papers signed for Brookville Hospital as a non-profit corporation. Four acres of land was donated, the hospital’s current site.

Ground was broken in 1918 and the first patient was admitted on December 12, 1919, Taylor said. “So we’re crowding that 100 year date, right here tonight.”

“In the beginning the hospital could accommodate 23 adults and had six bassinets,” Taylor said. In 1920, 250 patients were admitted and one birth was recorded. At the time, he said, most births happened at home not at the hospital.

In 1951, the auxiliary opened a snack bar at the hospital. Members donated food to be sold at the snack bar. The auxiliary continues today, he said, “as an active fundraising arm for the hospital.”

In 1921 a nursing school began with the opening of the hospital in 1919. A nurses’ home was constructed by the hospital in 1928. By 1931, the nursing school would graduate 25 nurses. It ceased operation in 1934 and the nurses’ home was used for administration purposes until being demolished in 2011.

The hospital would continue to grow over the next several years.

King then came to the podium to talk about the hospital’s history from 1982 to the present. In the 1980s, he said, the 1919 building was failing to meet state regulations. A New Era campaign was kicked off to help fund the $10 million construction costs for the new patient tower. The building was completed and dedicated in 1985.

“The 1980s and 90s were an exciting time, an expanding time for Brookville Hospital. New properties such as the 800 medical center in Clarion, the rehabilitation center, the Charles Med Center and the David L. Miller Medical Center” became assets of the hospital. New services such as home health care, cardiac rehab and more were added.

King noted that after the turn of the century maintaining a solid bottom line became more difficult for small, rural hospitals. Recruiting physicians to a small town and financial reimbursement were also getting challenging. In 2006, the hospital was designated as a critical access hospital to try to help improve reimbursement. But despite all good intentions and planning, it was a dire time.

In 2007, King said, Brookville Hospital signed a management agreement with DuBois Regional Medical Center and two years later an affiliation agreement was signed. And 2011 Penn Highlands Healthcare was created and became the parent company for both DRMC and Brookville Hospital.

In the following years PH Brookville saw both consolidation and expansion, King said. A new medical arts building is under construction now.

“We’re celebrating 100 years of quality patient care,” King said.

Fontaine shared several initiatives pertaining to Brookville and the Clarion market. These included:

  • recruitment of providers, mainly physicians. Four years ago began to recruit 50 providers, mostly doctors, annually and have done so for the past three years. This last year 59 with two-thirds being doctors and others being physician assistants, CRAS, and nurse practitioners. Over the last two years, 17 providers were recruited for Brookville Hospital.
  • family residency program to retain doctors. Commit to residency program for family practice and has been in existence for three years. Started rotations and clinics in Brookville and with DuBois and now in year four “we will graduate six family doctors from our regions and hopefully two or three of those will stay in our region.” It’s done so well, Fontaine said that the next residence program will likely be psychiatry.
  • renovation projects including the Brookville ER and the Medical Office Building.
  • growth – bought land in the Clarion market and in two years will construct a 17,000 square foot out-patient hospital.

He went on to say that Penn Highlands Healthcare now has five hospitals, two nursing homes and more than 100 clinic locations and employ more than 4,400 and have 700 medical staff with 500 of them being doctors. He also talked about DuBois becoming a trauma center and the building campaign going on across Penn Highlands Healthcare.

The evening ended with comments by Graeca and shared memories by several retired Brookville Hospital medical staff.

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