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Kearny High School
Kearny, New Jersey

History of West Hudson Hospital

This article appeared in The Observer for May 11, 1978 and was provided by Doris Stumpf Salmond:

Hospital History Reflects Growth of Area Since 1913

West Hudson Hospital will be marking an important milestone in the autumn.

The local institution, already well known far beyond the borders of this area, will be celebrating 65 years of community services. And since this is National Hospital Week, it's only appropriate to review its development from 1913.

The history of West Hudson Hospital is also the history of many dedicated local citizens who have worked through the years and are still working to provide residents of the West Hudson communities with the finest possible hospital facilities and health care.

One of the first persons in this area to see the need for a hospital was Frank Odendahl, former Kearny health commissioner. Two of his strong supporters at the time were Walter Davidson and Frank Stumpf. At Mr. Odendahl's suggestion, the estate of Jacob L. Stumpf, a Harrison contractor, donated a residence and adjacent property at Bergen Avenue and Elm Street in Kearny for hospital purposes.

The Stumpf Memorial Hospital Association was organized on October 10, 1912, and the property was deeded to the association on November 20 of the same year.

The old residence was converted for hospital use, with A. W. Abell as general contractor. John A. Danecke installed the plumbing, and F.R. Roder , the electrical connections. Plans for the alteration were drawn by Mark A. Lee.

Stumpf Memorial Hospital was formally opened on October 1, 1913, with 36 beds available for patients. Odendahl, Davidson and Stumpf were charter members of the board of directors, and E.J. Kraft was president of the association and the board.

The Early Days

During the first year of operation, the hospital admitted 329 patients. Twenty-six babies were born in the hospital that first year. Dr. August A. Strasser was director of the Medical staff, which consisted of 12 physicians and surgeons. Miss Catherine Gillen, R.N., was the first hospital superintendent.

Over the next several decades, numerous changes were completed. In 1922, the name of the hospital was changed to West Hudson Hospital to denote the area it served. In 1926, a new hospital building was dedicated, with a new fireproof structure taking the place of the original building. The new hospital held 52 beds, and an X-ray Department and a laboratory were among the facilities. The West Hudson Hospital Association had been formed in 1922 along with an Auxiliary, both taking the place of earlier organizations.

A west wing was added in 1951. The new bed capacity totalled 105. Joseph Healey, then mayor of Kearny, spoke at a dedication. Clifton H. Presbrey was president of the board of directors, and Dr. William P. Nemzek was director of the medical staff.

The health needs of the community received added support in 1960, when the Stumpf Memorial Wing, was added, providing a total of 150 beds, three operating suites, a recovery room, expanded laboratory and X-ray facilities, a two-story boiler room and cafeteria. By 1960, the medical staff included 80 physicians and surgeons. That year, 4,192 patients were admitted for a total of 37,580 days of patient care.

The most recent addition to West Hudson Hospital occurred in 1972, when a new Two South Wing was opened. This brought the bed total to 172, the present total. The East Wing was modernized and many new facilities were included in the renovation. Frank P. Smilari, the present administrator, assumed that post in 1968.

Upgrading Equipment

Following the opening of the new Two South Wing in 1972, West Hudson Hospital entered a program of upgrading and augmenting its medical equipment. This is the area in which contributions to the hospital are used in purchasing equipment for the improvement of quality patient care.

Another area of the hospital which has seen considerable enlargement since the 1972 construction is the laboratory, directed by Dr. Harold Grubin, chief pathologist. The lab is accredited annually by various national organizations of pathologists.

The hospital also completed the installation of a new bank of monitors in the Intensive Care Unit, permitting the nurses on watch to observe instantly any change in a patient's heart situation. The unit also monitors four patients outside the unit by means of a telemetry.

In keeping with state regulations, the hospital has instituted a Utilization Review Department, made up of physicians and nurses. These experts survey the length of stay for each patient and otherwise arrange for proper utilization of hospital facilities. A Discharge Planning Department also has been formed to deal with problems of patient discharge.

A number of active committees have been organized. Of unusual importance is the Safety Committee, which has the mission of finding and eliminating any possible hazard to patients and employes. Another is the Disaster Committee, which sponsors drills each year to teach hospital personnel the correct procedures in case of a real disaster.

Parking Problem

Several parking places have been added to the hospital in the last few years, but the problem of providing more space still offers much difficulty.

The hospital's medical staff is constantly expanding, adding new specialties and consultants.

In 1977, the hospital's services increased markedly over previous years. A total of 5,989 patients were treated, and patient days reached 57,008. There were 6,050 surgical procedures, 504,031 laboratory tests, 32,452 X-ray examinations and 16,361 Emergency Room services.

West Hudson Hospital is governed by West Hudson Hospital Association, which is chartered by the State of New Jersey. The association exerts its control through a board of governors, made up of responsible and concerned citizens interested in improving the health of the community. The board appoints an administrator to run the hospital's affairs. Incidentally, the present administrator, Frank P. Smilari, is marking his 10th anniversary at the hospital this year.

The community covered by the hospital includes Kearny, North Arlington, Harrison and East Newark. The hospital is a member of the Health Systems Agency of Hudson County and has installed a pilot program for the Professional Standards Review Organization. The hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Hospitals, the College of American Pathologists and the American Association of Blood Banks.

The hospital's Auxiliary, formerly called the Women's Auxiliary, contributes time and money to the hospital. Many of its members are also volunteers. The Auxiliary sponsors a variety of money-making activities, the proceeds are devoted to buying equipment for the care of patients and other hospital purposes. The hospital's volunteer services is marking its 25tb anniversary this year, having been organized in 1953.

Occupancy Rates Up

By all available standards, the hospital has continued to make progress during the years following the earlier expansion. Occupancy rates have increased, denoting a larger demand for services on the part of the public. The Emergency Room is

(Continued on Page2) Sorry. The rest of the story was missing.

Perhaps you have a photo or feature that would bring back memories to your fellow Kearny alumni. If you have access to a scanner, just scan the picture and simply attach the photo to an e-mail addressed to: If you do not have access to a scanner, you may mail the photo to:
Don Shorock
Post Office Box 501
Great Bend, Kansas 67530
. The original will be returned almost immediately.