A Point of View: Remembering Gowanda’s Tri-County Memorial Hospital
The hospital officially opened its doors for the first time on Saturday, Nov. 25, 1950, thanks to countless individuals’ efforts. The community was proud of what its dedication, commitment, sacrifice and hard work had achieved. A modern, up-to-date hospital became available to the community and its surrounding areas. It was a great day. The community’s efforts had not been in vain.
During the weeks leading up to the hospital’s construction, many scrimped and saved to contribute to the financial needs of the new facility.
Some people took out a loan or an additional mortgage to contribute toward the cause. They believed that this amenity was necessary for the area. The fruits of their labors were soon realized.
That hospital fulfilled a calling for almost 60 years. Additions were made to the original facility, to meet emerging health care needs. Over the years, hundreds of patients were served. Many of our friends and neighbors took their first breaths in the hospital’s maternity ward and some, surrounded by comforting hospital personnel, took their final breaths at Tri-County Memorial.
We were fortunate to have on hand an array of skilled hospital personnel, and we were blessed with hospital volunteers, auxiliary members, aides, medical students, board members and community support.
During its history, the hospital knew both good and hard times. Through it all, the hospital met its obligations to the patients: up-to-date equipment, spotless, sanitized rooms, attractive surroundings and highly-competent, warm personnel. When the need was there, the hospital was ready to respond.
“We are here for the patients” was its motto. That was the legacy of Tri-County Memorial Hospital.
The hospital experienced financial stresses and several weather-related events, but Tri-County was always there to answer the call.
But, on the night of Aug. 9, 2009, the hospital experienced a catastrophe. The buildings were ravaged by rushing flood waters. Personnel and community emergency services were there for the patients, but the devastation to the facility was too great for the structure to be restored.
Hospital administrators arrived on the scene almost immediately and took action to provide for the restoration of essential services. The action planning by the administration and the Lake Erie Regional Health System New York Board was placed on the top priority list.
Visible work on the demolition of the flood-ravaged facility began only a few weeks ago, but months of intensive planning had already taken place. Hospital personnel met with neighbors near the hospital to apprise them of developments. Site surveyors mapped out and marked the entire location. Demolition plans were developed and approved by state, federal and health agencies.
A historic preservation assessment was made. A tall, metal fence was erected around the site’s perimeter and a portable project work office was set up. Safety and health measures were put in place and multiple, large pieces of demolition equipment arrived.
Stage by stage, the project got underway. We saw less and less of the complex as it once was. The demolition is now complete.
Stately trees now stand where impressive hospital buildings once were. A busy, burgeoning facility used to sit where the tranquil, landscaped site now sprawls. The building itself is now a memory.
What remains is the remembrance of the services provided at Tri-County Memorial Hospital.
The 60-year-old historic legacy is one that the community of Gowanda will not forget.