This week's focus of ArkLaTex Best is Schumpert Medical Center. Schumpert closes soon at the Margaret Street location. It has stood at that location for over a 100 years and Rick Rowe takes a look back at one of the best hospitals.
The story is in the stones, the granite, the marble and the names.
At the old Greenwood Cemetery, the history surrounds you because the people there were either born, delivered or died here. Joann Redden birthed all three of her babies at Schumpert. One of them in the old hospital on St. Mary Hill and two more in the then brand new hospital at Margaret Place.
That history goes all the way back to 1894; the year T. E. Schumpert, an ambitious and driven doctor and surgeon opened a tiny 16 bed hospital. Four years later he opened a nursing school. Unable to run a practice, administer a hospital and oversee a school, Schumpert partnered with the Sisters of Charity to run the hospital and the nursing school in 1907. A year later, dying of typhoid fever, Dr. Schumpert willed the hospital to the sisters and was buried in a tomb a year later in May of 1908.
The sisters will not sit still as the city grows so does the hospital they now own. In 1911, they opened this 666 bed hospital at St. Mary Place and the hospital thrived for almost 50 years. But, medicine changes and so does Schumpert. In 1957, one of the most modern hospitals in American opened its doors. It's fully air conditioned and has the state's first cobalt unit for the treatment of cancer. The hospital prospered with the city around it but the city is moving; south and east. In 1999, Schumpert established a satellite clinic just off the busy Youree Drive corridor. In the process, other hospitals close their doors.
So, we look forward. That's what the sisters have always done; they always met the mission where the need was. Still, for those who remember when their babies came into the world here, when gama got sick and we brought all those get well cards. When dad passed away and we cried, it all happened here. For a century, this is the place that saw us into the world and ushered us out and for those, it's closing is bittersweet.
It's real sad but time marches on and we all have to change.