The Origin of Boulder Community Hospital

Honoring the People Who Created What We've Inherited

The Boulder Hospital Association

In 1920, because Boulder's University Hospital was no longer large enough to meet the needs of the community, a group of local physicians founded the Boulder Hospital Association for the purpose of opening a new hospital.

Carbon Gillaspie, MD, was president of the Association; C.W. Foley, MD, was vice president; and M.E. Miles, MD, was secretary and treasurer. They and W.W. Reed, MD, and Frank R. Spencer, MD, made up the Association's board.

Boulder Community Hospital

The Boulder News-Herald for March 15, 1921 reported that "Establishment of a new hospital in Boulder by 26 doctors of Boulder, Lafayette and Louisville at a cost of between $25,000 and $30,000 was announced today by the Boulder Hospital Association which was organized here a year ago.

"The Hagman property at Twelfth Street and First Ave. has been purchased by the Association and work of converting it into a 30-patient hospital will start at once. It is planned to have the institution in operation within 90 days. The plant will form the nucleus for a larger institution, present plans being to enlarge as the need for additional facilities increases.

"Establishment of the hospital was decided upon because of the crowded condition of the University Hospital and the resulting effect on service there. There is a crying need at present for additional facilities, prominent physicians state, and it is their belief that the new institution and the University Hospital can be kept running at capacity."

On June 29, 1921, Boulder Community Hospital opened as a community-owned not-for-profit institution. It relieved the crowding at University Hospital on the Boulder campus, and provided a facility where local physicians who were not on the closed staff of the Boulder-Colorado Sanitarium could have privileges.

The Boulder Community Hospital Association

On January 1, 1922, the Boulder Chamber of Commerce and the regents of the University of Colorado entered into a contract under which the Chamber took over management of the University Hospital building on the Boulder campus and operated it as a community hospital while the building was being phased out.

The Boulder Chamber of Commerce established the Community Hospital Association and appointed a board with five directors chosen from among local business leaders.

Charles A. Semrad, for example, was general manager of the Western Light & Power Company. William Loach was general manager of the Wolf Tongue Mining Company. W.S. Withers owned the Ford dealership in Boulder and was president of the Boulder Auto Trades' Association. Frank W. Persons was the founding president (1919-1920) of the Boulder Rotary Club.

Each board member was a respected community leader who felt personally responsible for seeing that there were enough hospital beds in Boulder.
The Boulder County Medical Association selected five doctors to serve as an advisory board for the Community Hospital Association.

On August 25, 1922, the Boulder Hospital Association (1920) turned over its Community Hospital property to the Community Hospital Association, which assumed the $16,500 mortgage on the property and agreed to build a new hospital building before August 1, 1924. The doctors who had founded the Boulder Hospital Association agreed to continue their contributions to the building fund.

The Colorado Medical Society's Colorado Medicine for September 1922 reported that "a merger of the University and Boulder hospitals was announced August 30. Control of the merged institutions will be vested in a Chamber of Commerce board. The plan provides that the community shall maintain the University hospital until August 1, 1924. New equipment for the operating room at the University hospital, purchased at the cost of $1500 by the Women's advisory board, is on hand and will promptly be installed."

The 1922 Fund Drive

On August 28, 1922, the News Herald reported that a fund drive for the addition to Community Hospital would be launched in October 1922 because of the pending move of University Hospital from Boulder to Denver. "'It is an emergency situation which requires emergency action,' Mr. Loach asserted.

"'Boulder is confronted with this situation: either we are to have a "community hospital" in the literal sense — and to do that we must go out and raise the necessary funds — or else Boulder will be entirely without hospital facilities except such as are provided by those physicians who, as individuals, establish their own plants. The latter course will mean that the city will have no institution for emergency cases and will be forced to depend upon whatever facilities private endeavor may provide.'"


Acknowledgements

Three people provided essential information and advice: Susan Graf, former president and CEO of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce; Boulder historian Silvia Pettem; and Patti L. Sedano at Boulder Community Hospital.

Mary Jo Reitsema at the Boulder Public Library's Carnegie Branch Library for Local History located and scanned articles from the Boulder News Herald — and in the process showed why librarians continue to be such valuable members of our communities.

Contact book [at] coloradohealthcarehistory [dot] com or @ColoradoHealth on Twitter with additions, corrections, suggestions, or for more information. Thank you!

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