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wm_sayles.jpgMemorial Hospital of Rhode Island - In the 110 years since the Pawtucket Business Men's Association voted to charter what they dubbed "The Pawtucket General Hospital," Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island has never lost sight of its original dedication to service and the promotion of good health.

These were among the objectives originally set forth in the deeded gift of businessman William F. Sayles, whose foresight provided the money necessary to build the hospital. After his death in 1894, Mr. Sayles -- who helped found the Saylesville Finishing Plant, the world's largest textile bleachery in the bustling Lincoln mill village that bears his name -- left $200,000 for "charitable uses" chosen by his son, Frank. Frank A. Sayles envisioned the creation of a community-based hospital that would treat anyone, regardless of their ability to pay, and help foster good health in the surrounding area.

frank_sayles.jpg"Shall be forever occupied and used by The Memorial Hospital as a hospital where the rich and the poor who may be suffering from sickness, accident or injuries, may receive medical and surgical care and treatment, paying therefore such amounts, if any, as the respectively may be able to pay and the said corporation may from time to time require. But no person shall be refused care and treatment in said hospital merely because of inability to make compensation thereof, if the resources of said corporation for the time being are sufficient to enable it to receive, care for, and treat persons without charge. All sums received from the patients for care and treatment shall become a part of the general funds of the corporation to be used for the purpose of defraying its running expenses or otherwise used for supplying the needs of the hospital and increasing its efficiency as an instrument of public good."--Deed of gift of Frank A. Sayles

From such a noble foundation, Memorial Hospital has spent the past century growing steadily from a 30-bed institution that admitted two patients its first day to a sprawling 13-acre teaching institution with 294 beds and three satellite primary care center facilities in Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts.Memorial is certainly a place where the sick get well, where patients are whisked into the emergency and operating rooms for relief of traumatic injury, where stroke victims can spend hours relearning how to walk in the Physical Medicine Department. But it is so much more.

Memorial has come to embody a myriad of internationally-renowned research studies, the enthusiasm of medical students in unique Family and Internal Medicine Programs, the rehabilitation center and one of the first Home Care Programs in New England. Here, researchers ply their ideas and theories in a fertile petri dish where they study prevention of childhood obesity or ways to stop progression of and to treat osteoarthritis.

Memorial has also fostered a healthy relationship with The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, bringing residents in both Internal and Family Medicine training programs into the hospital. The Family Medicine program is the only one of its kind in the state to integrate the broad range of preventive counseling and diagnostic and treatment services. These elements combine for a dynamic atmosphere in which Memorial reaches beyond the boundaries of conventional medicine to develop bold new programs and services that are designed to help people stay healthy before and after hospitalization.

Also through the years, Memorial has enjoyed a special relationship with the people of the Blackstone Valley. Thousands of babies have entered the world in the state-of-the-art maternity suites, hundreds of men and women earned nursing degrees in the 70-year existence of the hospital's School of Nursing and even more residents and neighbors have turned to the medical professionals here for guidance, treatment and compassion.

The commitment to the community has helped fuel Memorial's dynamic growth through the decades, from the construction of a private wing for 23 patients constructed in 1918 for just $50,975 to the opening of the spectacular $12.6-million Sayles Building in 1987. Memorial's niche as one of the most modern and progressive hospital facilities in the nation is tribute to the dedication of the staff and the generosity of Blackstone Valley residents, which its founders envisioned as key to the success of the institution.

"The Memorial Hospital is a public institution but is not supported by the City. It was organized and is conducted for the benefit of the community. It belongs to and must be sustained by the people. The Trustees confidently expect that the people of Pawtucket and vicinity will cheerfully sustain this great charity."-- President Charles O. Read, in the first annual report

The evolution of a hospital
In death, William F. Sayles sought to honor the memory of his deceased wife Mary Wilkinson Sayles and daughter Martha Freeman Sayles, leaving money to be used at his son's discretion. After consulting for several years on the different uses for the bequest, Frank A. Sayles followed the direction of members of the Pawtucket Business Men's Association and decided a hospital would serve the needs of a rapidly growing Blackstone Valley and fulfill his father's wishes.

On May 25, 1901, The Memorial Hospital was incorporated with Lyman M. Darling as the first corporation president. Frank Sayles deeded the hospital to the corporation in June. A year later, on June 30, 1902, Charles O. Read announced at a Trustees meeting that Mr. Sayles was donating the Dunnell Homestead, with its mansion and acres of grounds, for hospital purposes. The original intention was to renovate and equip the large, three-story Italianate mansion for use as the hospital but Mr. Sayles objected. It was his belief that the hospital should be just one story.He had the mansion torn down in 1906-1907 and commissioned Boston architect Guy Lowell to design a hospital building. Construction on the hospital began in 1907 and took three years. 

On June 29, 1910, Frank Sayles presented the completed and equipped facility to the Memorial Hospital Corporation in a deed of gift. On the same day, the corporation elected Mr. Read its first president. Stressed were the original intentions of the corporation to treat everyone, rich and poor, needing medical assistance.
"No person shall be refused care and treatment in said hospital merely because of an inability to make compensation."-- Frank A. Sayles, term of gift

President Read opened the doors to Memorial Hospital on Oct. 1, 1910, and staff admitted two patients, one of whom required surgery. In that first year, 449 patients received treatment of some kind and the average daily census was 21 patients. Major operations cost $10, with 8x12 x-rays costing $3 apiece. Patients seeking a private room paid $25 a week, or $16 for a two-bed room and $12 for a bed on a ward. One intern, P.J. Keough, MD, was available for duty at all times.

The main entrance to the original hospital faced Prospect Street, with a large, semi-circular drive coming up the front of the Sayles Building. The domed Sayles structure served as the entrance to the hospital and housed the administrative offices. Patient services were provided in a series of wings running perpendicular to Prospect Street, connected by hallways. Even with all its new facilities, however, the hospital was often full.
"From this time forward, the number of patients steadily increased, reaching at one time the maximum of 37 under treatment per day; and maintaining an average during the last six months of 28. This indicates that at the end of our first year, the capacity of the institution as at present constituted is already severely taxed and we have several times been obliged to refuse admission to patients on this account."-- President Read, first annual report
The next few years were a flurry of acquisitions and grand openings for Mr. Read and the rest of the Trustees. In November of 1910, Mrs. Daisy B. Goff donated the Lyman T. Goff House to be used as the Isabella Goff Dormitory for Nurses as the hospital prepared to board students for the new School of Nursing. In 1911, the school opened, as did an outpatient department in the hospital's basement, a tuberculosis clinic and an x-ray department. The hospital expanded to the entire block and more than 13 acres when Darius L. Goff donated the estate of the late Claudius B. Farnsworth at the corner of Prospect and Pond streets on February 27, 1913.

The size of the hospital's property was now the equivalent of the land occupied by the Great Pyramid of Egypt. Even such acquisitions didn't help ease the space crunches facing the hospital, starting barely a year after opening, in the summer of 1911, when a canvas tent was erected on the grounds to allow the hospital to care for more patients at times when the wards were full. Patients whose condition allowed it slept in the tent. A separate "camp" was set up to treat sick infants. Later, during World War I, a portable, 18 by 31-foot Hodgson House was erected onmemorial_hospital_of_rhode_island_7.jpg the grounds to serve convalescent veterans. At other times, such as during a scarlet fever epidemic in 1914 and the Spanish Influenza Epidemic of 1918, space became premium when quarantined units were created.

Growing in leaps and bounds
Through the next few decades, Memorial Hospital grew to include: a 23-bed private wing opened in July of 1918; dermatology services; an orthopedic ward opened in 1925; a children's ward opened in 1926; an accident room opened in 1932; a Department of Radium Therapy opened in 1939; a hemoclinic, or blood bank, opened in 1942; and a physical therapy department established in 1949.

"The Outpatient Department is doing a most charitable an important work ... Protracted illness is here often prevented, restoring the wage earner to his family without a long stay in the hospital ward which might otherwise be a necessity."-- President Read

The physical structure of the hospital was also continuously expanded to meet the needs of the community and to house these various departments and clinics. On June 1, 1931, in the midst of the Great Depression, the hospital opened a pediatrics/maternity unit using a $200,000 donation from Mr. and Mrs. James R. MacColl in memory of their daughter, Margaret, who died in childhood. The unit, named after the family, added 44 beds for children and 25 for maternity. Its design is reminiscent of the original hospital buildings, which featured pink stucco and topped with a red tile roof. The building is also similar to the original hospital structure in that it has a long main form with a cross gabled wing on each end.

Two decades later, in October of 1951, workers completed a two-story stuccoed wing on the north side of the hospital, named The Richardson Building after an original trustee, E. Russel Richardson, who left a trust fund of $285,000 when he died in 1931.The building -- designed by the firm of Monahan, Meikle and Johnson, which did much of the work on the grounds of the original hospital -- added 56 beds, bringing the hospital's total bed count to 214. It also afforded room for the new Therapy and Nursing Arts departments and a lecture hall.

The modern era
Memorial Hospital officials consider 1965 to be a critical year in the history of the organization. It is that year, with the opening of the Harold W. Wood Building, that Memorial entered an ambitious modernization and expansion program that continued for more than 20 years, enlarging the physical appearance and size of the main campus to its current size. The seven-story Wood Building provided Memorial with 150 new medical, surgical and maternity beds in a lush, modern setting.The building also featured a new emergency department, x-ray facility and cafeteria. Named for the long-time treasurer and president of the hospital, the Wood project cost a total of $3.8 million. Of that, $1.3 million, $300,000 more than expected, was donated by members of the community. 

Phase two of the modernization program, the Dr. Percy Hodgson Building, was dedicated next to the Wood Building on August 20 and 21, 1976. The building, named after the President of the Board of Trustees, cost $8 million, of which $4 million was pledged by members of the community and hospital staff. Inside the structure was a new operating theatre with eight operating rooms, a pharmacy, and space for transportation and central processing. In addition, there were 80 modern patient rooms, including those in the new intensive care and coronary care units.

In 1985, the third phase of modernization was unveiled in the $1.7-million Ambulatory Care Center. The 16,000-square foot center serves as the central facility for outpatient services and was the first part completed in a $14.3-million construction and renovation program. Housed there are such services as mammography, x-ray, Home Care, blood screening and other laboratory testing. The remainder of the money, $12.6 million, was used for the new Sayles Building, completed in September of 1987.

On the site of the original hospital building, the 67,000-square foot space creates a majestic new domed entrance, as well as modern space for the emergency department, medical rehabilitation, physical therapy and admitting. Although this 20-year span marked the most dramatic period of physical growth and modernization for Memorial Hospital, the shovels and hard hats were not put away permanently. Hospital physicians and administrators made a visible commitment to the concept of primary medicine, through which patients are treated from infancy to geriatric stages by one physician. Entire families are welcomed by primary care physicians in the same office using a holistic approach to medicine.  Opened in 1999, the Center for Primary Care serves more than 12,000 patients a year.

By the 1980s, the combination of facilities and talent helped Memorial Hospital evolve to become the designated center for Rhode Island's rehabilitation services. The hospital is home to the Institute for Rehabilitation and Restorative Care, the Rhode Island Rehabilitation Network and the Brown Medical school's rehabilitation program.

The hospital also trains rehabilitation professionals in hospital-based services for the chronically disabled. Patients who have suffered a stroke, amputation or hip fracture can find emotional and physical support in the services offered in Memorial's rehab unit. More than 25,000 patient visits are recorded each year for such services as physical, occupational and speech therapy, physiatric follow up, diagnostic and the brace/amputation clinic.

Another rehabilitation services available is the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, which consists of carefully supervised exercise regimens for patients recovering from heart attacks, bypass surgery and angina.

The Home Care Program at Memorial Hospital, one of the first hospital-based programs of its kind in New England, provides a variety of medical services for patients as small as infants up to senior citizens. The goal of the program is to enable patients to leave the hospital earlier and recover at home. Home Care staff provide physical, occupational and speech therapy, personal care, medical supplies and prescription drugs.  Home Care staff provide more than 60,000 visits to more than 3,000 patients annually.

Centralizing services for the convenience of patients, The Cancer Center at Memorial Hospital was completed in 2002.  It provides a spacious area for oncology offices, infusion therapy and an educational resource center.

In an effort to meet growing needs for preventative screening and early detection of disease, The Endoscopy Center was built in 2006.

An expanded and renovated Emergency Department opened in 2008, offering improved patient privacy and comfort as well as computerized tracking, documentation and retrieval of medical information to speed and enhance care.

In 2009 Memorial initiated a 5-year clinical affiliation agreement for emergency medicine with Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass.  Under the terms of the agreement, the hospitals developed plans to further improve operational efficiency in the emergency department and to identify areas for quality enhancement.  This collaboration will expand options for patients.

The Stroke Center at Memorial Hospital earned Primary Stroke Canter designation from The Joint Commission in 2009.  This designation demonstrates a commitment to excellence to improve outcomes for stoke patients.

In 2011 Memorial developed a new clinical affiliation with Brigham and Women's Cardiovascular Center to enhance and expand the care options for patients. The two institutions have a shared mission of outstanding patient care, innovative medical research and dedication to teaching the next generation of physicians.

The hospital's reopened cardiac catheterization lab features cutting edge equipment to conduct diagnostic catheterization for a wide range of cardiovascular conditions and procedures for treatment of the blood vessels in the body, such as cartoids, abdominal and lower extremities.

The Center is staffed with five cardiologists who were jointly recruited and have privileges at both institutions. A senior vascular cardiologist from Brigham and Women's comes to Memorial to perform specialized procedures.

Research coexists with treatment
Memorial Hospital has enjoyed a symbiotic relationship between treatment of the ill and medical education and research since thevery beginning, with the opening of its Training School for Nurses just months after the hospital first opened in 1911. John F. Kenney, MD, who came to the hospital in 1914 and later served as Chief of the Medical Service until 1946, pioneered the concept of in-house medical education here and lent his enthusiasm to generations of doctors since.

The most telling indication of the hospital's dedication to education is embodied in an affiliation with the Alpert Medical School. Created in 1969, the relationship has brought thousands of the best young medical students, interns, residents and research fellows in the country through the hospital's doors for study and practice. Memorial has grown into the second largest teaching hospital in the state, with the majority of the full-time medical staff affiliated with the medical school, and dozens of residents in various specialties working here.

The hospital is home to Brown's Family Medicine and Internal Medicine residency programs, through which staff physicians teach medical residents about rehabilitation and restorative care. This infusion invigorated Memorial's medical research endeavors. Today, more than fifty research projects supported by more than $2.5 million in federal funds, ranks the hospital among the top research hospitals in Rhode Island. Memorial is also on the forefront in the relatively new specialty field of Family Medicine, which emphasizes the role of the primary care physician as the orchestrator of care and treatment for members of an entire family.

These specially trained doctors provided preventive health care assessments and counseling for families in addition to their traditional diagnostic and treatment services. Brown medical school's Family Medicine teaching program is anchored at Memorial Hospital, where residents undergo rigorous training in a wide variety of medical areas, including pediatrics, gerontology, surgery, emergency medicine, obstetrics, gynecology, internal and behavioral medicine. Throughout the three-year program, residents work directly with families in neighborhood health centers, private physician offices and as staff members of Memorial's Center for Primary Care and Prevention. In that capacity, they provide family planning services, assess learning disabilities, provide family crisis intervention and offer a full scope of traditional medical services.
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