Way We Were: First hospital was a short-lived operation | ParkRecord.com

Way We Were: First hospital was a short-lived operation

Mahala Ruddell
Park City Museum

Last week’s article explored the efforts of businessman E.H. Howard and Doctor Thomas Monahan to found and operate a small hospital here in Park City. The two men moved from Salt Lake City, leased the large home at 421 Park Ave. and, in February 1900, opened a hospital complete with electric lights and an operating room.

Park City had long desired a local hospital to provide the prompt medical care needed for emergencies and serious illnesses. Though several doctors called the town home, at the turn of the century, most Parkites had to travel to Salt Lake for surgical procedures and critical care needs. Howard and Monahan provided a service desperately needed.

Both men were suited for their positions. Dr. Monahan was especially well-known throughout the state. In 1899, he had been involved in a complex brain surgery case treating Salt Lake mail carrier Samuel Skidmore. Skidmore had been near-fatally injured in an accident with a cart and horse and Dr. Monahan was part of a three-man team who devised a scheme by which to relieve his suffering.

Skidmore was subjected to three surgeries which at first did not seem to be successful. At the turn of the century, with limited anesthesia and no sterile operating environments, we can only imagine how traumatic these procedures must have been for Skidmore. Amazingly, he recovered and lived into his eighties.

Dr. Monahan did not stay in Park City long. After getting the hospital off the ground, he moved to Eureka to help found another much-needed hospital in that community in July 1900. Dr. William Donoher took over his position as physician and surgeon in Park City.

E.H. Howard followed Monahan in October 1900, at which point Parkite Michael Fitzgerald stepped in as manager. The hospital’s nurse, Eva van Tromp and her daughter Mabel also left for Eureka in late 1900 where Eva continued her work at the new hospital.

Michael Fitzgerald and Dr. Donoher did their best to care for patients after the departure of Howard, Monahan, and van Tromp. But the Park City Hospital was small and the financial burden heavy. Despite urgings from hospital management, local mine companies made no effort to change the policy of deducting one dollar per paycheck of their employees to support Salt Lake City hospitals.

In part because of the diversion of these funds, the Park City Hospital was forced to close in February 1901, just one year after its opening. Dr. Donoher continued to lease the building at 421 Park Ave., but operated a private practice instead.

But the year the hospital had been opened left an impression on the town. Having seen the benefits of local emergency and critical care, Parkites pushed for a new, larger, and locally-funded hospital. In 1904, their efforts paid off. The Miners Hospital, in part funded by the dollar-per-paycheck previously diverted to Salt Lake, opened its doors that spring.


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