Focus on Fostoria - May2205b

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Published on 05/22/05 in the Fostoria Focus
Fostoria Community Hospital — a history of expanding horizons

By LEONARD SKONECKI

Expansion has ever been the name Fostoria Community Hospital’s game.

When the hospital admitted its first patient in 1930, it had a staff of 12, 30 beds, no emergency room, no maternity ward and no intensive care unit. Nonetheless, the Toledo News Bee said it was “one of the finest small hospitals in northwestern Ohio ... and is so constructed that other wings may be added.”

The key word there is “added.”

By 1939, the hospital was out of room. The Depression was still on, but the hospital obtained funding through the WPA, the Works Projects Administration, to add onto the building.

This expansion resulted in the addition of 16 beds. In addition, 14 rooms were made into private rooms and four into semi-private rooms.

At this time, a 12-bed obstetrics unit was added as well as two solariums.

Helen Strausbaugh, a Good Shepherd Home resident, remembers that her husband, Glenn, worked on that expansion. He helped pour a lot of concrete.

By the mid 1950s, the hospital was getting cramped again. For instance, that 12-member staff that ran things in 1930 had grown to 75 by 1954. The average patient census rose from 10 a day in 1930 to 43 a day in 1954 which meant Fostoria City Hospital was filled virtually to capacity every single day. Tight quarters for all those ailing Fostorians.

And let’s not forget babies. In 1930, 29 little nubbers were born at FCH. In 1954, 562 Fostorians debuted. That’s just over 1½ deliveries per day.

So in 1960, FCH, with the aid of $400,000 in federal money and $800,000 from city income taxes, expanded again. A new three-story wing was added and the older portion was renovated.

The number of beds now reached 80, 63 medical and 17 obstetrical. It was in this expansion that the entrance was remodeled so it was now at sidewalk level. Previously, you had to climb quite a number of steps.

In addition, the laundry, kitchen, ER and radiology department were modernized.

Along comes 1976 and guess what? Out of room again.

Since 1960, Fostoria City Hospital had added EEG, physical therapy, inhalation therapy, 24-hour electrocardiograph capability, greater ER physician coverage, social services, a full-time pharmacist and a dietitian.

After all, if everything’s up to date in Kansas City, it might as well be the same in Fostoria.
What’s more, six new doctors opened practices since 1970, placing greater demands on hospital services, especially outpatient services.

In May 1974, Fostorians voted themselves a ½ percent income tax hike to pay for a $4.6 million expansion and work began in 1975. The tax came off the books in 1981.

The 1976 expansion involved the expansion and relocation of the ER and the lab as well as the EEG, EKG, X-ray, dental, physical therapy, maternity and ICU/coronary care units. When the hospital had an open house on Oct. 17, 1976, 1,000 people showed up.

That was the third expansion, but the third time was not the final charm.

In 1996, the hospital moved forward with a $5.8 million expansion. The administrator at this time was Brad Higgins.

FCH decided to add 30,000 square feet to the existing 52,000. A new emergency room and medical office suites were the two primary improvements.

The hospital received good news when it broke ground in November 1996. Harold Davis, a partner in the Davis-Newcomer Elevator Co. left FCH a $1.3 million bequest.

When the hospital was built in 1930, space for an emergency room on the east end of the building was provided.

However, the ER wasn’t added until 1956.

Other improvements in this fourth expansion included an outpatient retail pharmacy, outpatient clinic, urgent care clinic, additional space for occupational medicine, a new HVAC system and two new boilers.

As early as 1990, the need for a new surgical department was making itself felt. FHA President Don Mennel suggested municipal or state bonds might finance the project.

In 2001, the hospital board voted to undertake a $5 million, 30,000-square-foot expansion with new surgical facilities at its center. In December that year, CEO Tim Jakacki told the City Planning

Commission that the project would take approximately one year to complete.

The existing operating rooms were 285 square feet. In 2001, the standard was 360 to 480 square feet. Additional space was added to upgrade radiology, special imaging and other diagnostic services.
This project was the first major initiative since the merger with ProMedica Health Systems in the spring of 2000. The new addition was ready to go on Feb. 25, 2003.

After he toured the 1960 addition, Fostoria minister Fred Fuge of the Church of the Nazarene wrote a poem about the hospital called “Fostoria’s People Palace.” Rev. Fuge was in his late 80s at the time.

He passed away in Fostoria City Hospital in 1968 at 95.

If Rev. Fuge were alive today, he’d be glad to find that Fostoria Community Hospital is even more palatial now than it was when he toured it 45 years ago.