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By Staff | May 19, 2010

Last week, I used the side of my face to stop the travel of a wayward wrench. The experience gave me the opportunity for a few brief moments to view stars of a galaxy far, far way. After a time, the stars faded and it was determined that a trip to the hospital to make sure I did no damage to my few remaining brain cells was in order.

On my way to the hospital, it did not occur to me that I would be visiting the new emergency room at Wetzel County Hospital. Like most people, I had read in the paper that the new facility was open for patients care but never gave it much thought, up to this point.

A few months ago, I was in the old emergency room with an ill family member. At that time, the nurses and doctors went about doing their important jobs of helping the sick and injured in that small area of the hospital. Like always, they were efficient in their jobs, as they seen to the needs of their patients.

But, my visit last week gave me a first hand look at the new facility and its operation. Like most of you, a visit to the hospital is usually not high on my list of things to do. Unfortunately, the reality of life is that on occasions most of us will make a similar trip to seek medical help at the hospital. My visit to the new ER last week was made easier by the new complex being in service.

The emergency room now has its own waiting area and the reception area is located just inside the doors. Being the only person coming in at that time I was quickly taken to one of the new private patient rooms to be seen by the emergency room staff. If memory serves me correctly I was told the ER now has treatment rooms for 12 patients and could accommodate a few more if a major event were to happen.

Wetzel County Hospital has come a long way since it was first chartered just over 90 years ago. In 1920 an application for a hospital charter was applied for and on April 9, 1920, the West Virginia Secretary of State granted the new charter for a Wetzel County Hospital. A few days later, on April 12, a meeting of the newly charter corporation’s members was held and the first hospital board was elected.

In 1936 the hospital was moved to a location along state Route 2. It had only 25 beds and room for eight new babies in its nursery. Over the following years the needs of the local area facilitated the hospital to increase in size, number of beds and services. By the sixties the hospital could accommodate up to 81 patients for medical care and a host of medical test and treatments.

My first memories of the hospital in New Martinsville were when I was taken to the old facility for a broken arm in 1957. I remember in those days nurses wore starched white dresses and those familiar caps. Doctors wore white jackets and stethoscopes around their necks.Today, it seems to me a more relaxed approach is given to patients even as the staff goes about performing their important daily tasks in a profession manner. I believe all these changes are to help put patients at ease in a sometimes difficult time.

Over the last 90 years the Wetzel County Hospital has been there to provide a place of medical treatment for the community. Over those years an untold number of citizens have been brought into this world by the local doctors in one of the hospitals. Lives have been saved and the health has been restored too many of us. And they have been there to bring comfort to those whose time may have come.

We often forget about the mission of our local hospital until it is needed. But still today the hospital strives to fulfill the purpose stated in that original charter application: Maintain a hospital in which the sick, diseased, and afflicted persons are to be treated and cared for.

I am thankful we live in a community that has chosen for 90 years to support the Wetzel County Hospital for the well-being of its citizens. And for being there to provide services on occasion when I see the stars of a galaxy far, far away Thru the Lens.