Monday, June 6, 2011

Lost Stories: Yesterday and Today - Lake East Hospital

On a recent drive into Painesville, I passed the remnants of a city historical cornerstone.  Like the YMCA marker nearby, the recently demolished Harvey High School, and the old Post Office building I frequented in the square, it is a story soon to be lost to local lore and past history.  Dr. John H. Mathews came to Painesville in 1814.  Considered to be the first physician in Lake and Geauga Counties, his residence at 309 North State Street was the earliest known public hospital facility of the era.  Today the relocated residence stands on the northern end of the Lake Erie College Campus and is open to visitors.  The Lake Hospital System has origins dating back to 1834-1847 as part of the Willoughby Medical College.  However it is 1902 that officially is recognized as the start of the first public based hospital system in Lake County.  The New Connecticut Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution sponsored and began work on this project in 1902 and by July, 1904 Lake East Hospital opened its doors.  It was located at the Stephen Mathews Residence on Washington Street. Fiscal concerns were an immediate issue and by 1924 the Lake County Commissioners assumed control of the ever expanding hospital.  Horse drawn ambulances were the norm and patients were carried upstairs in stretchers before the installation of an elevator.  Progress continued, improvements were made, and additions were built.  1961 saw the expansion and creation of a Lake West Hospital in Willoughby.  Finally in 1985, both hospitals became part of the newly titled Lake Health System.  Lake East may be nearly gone as of this writing, a victim to progress and new downtown plans. In its place,  Tri Point Hospital (Concord Twp) stands as Lake County's newest and most modern hospital.  Lake East Hospital, the birthplace of my wife, and its ER wing, the place of many of my athletic mishap visits are now just two lost stories in the history of Lake County's first hospital.

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