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Guardians of the Yosemite (1961) by John W. Bingaman


Chapter X

HOSPITAL AND MEDICAL SERVICE

After the U. S. Army turned over the administration to the Interior Department in 1914, hospital and medical service was needed. From June 27, 1914, to August 21, 1914, a civilian, Doctor H. H. Sheffield, practiced medicine in the valley. The War Department granted the use of its hospital under the control of a Non-Commissioned Officer.

The Army Camp Hospital built by the War Department in 1913 was remodeled in 1915. It was located not far from the Old Yosemite Lodge but up against the cliff. In 1915 Doctor J. S. Brooks and Doctor E. H. Coleman, both physicians and surgeons from San Francisco, opened the hospital building for the practice of medicine and the sale of drugs under the authority granted by the Department of the Interior. They had one trained nurse on duty. Many accidents and serious sick cases were taken care of there and the small staff provided a much needed service.

In 1916, Superintendent W. B. Lewis reported 123 cases were treated in the hospital during the year and 1,566 calls were made outside. Seven bed patients was the limit the hospital could handle. An adequate X-ray machine and other necessary hospital equipment were needed so that, necessary major operations could be performed.

Doctor Fredrick Stein came in later to take over the hospital and was in charge until 1923 when Doctor Claude Church replaced him. A Doctor Hunt followed Church for a short time to be succeeded by Doctor Chester Moyle in the fall of 1926. A serious accident case on the El Portal Road near the Dam when a truck turned over seriously injured nine workmen. Dr. Moyle handled some of the injured and others were taken to Merced by Curry Company Stages. Several of the accident victims died.

Doctor Hartly G. Dewey opened the new W. B. Lewis Memorial Hospital during Christmas week 1929. The services to Yosemite rendered in this fine hospital were much needed as the increase in visitors, as well as permanent and seasonal employees, had doubled during the past decade. Dr. Dewey needed additional help so another doctor and more nurses were added to the staff. A permanent Dentist Office was also established for full time work, with Doctor Raleigh Davies in charge.

Doctor Avery Sturm joined Doctor Dewey at the Lewis Memorial Hospital in 1935. This team practiced until 1942 when Doctor Sturm entered Military Service during World War 2. Doctor Dewey’s contract was up in April 1943, so he, too, left the Park. Doctor Kune was in charge through 1943. Then the Navy Doctors from the Ahwahnee Hospital took over. The Navy took over the Ahwahnee Hotel, also on June 23, 1943 and continued through December 15, 1945. These Navy Doctors took care of all cases, local employees as well as visitors that needed medical attention. In 1945 Doctor Avery Sturm returned from Military Service and took over the Contract from the Park Service and has operated the hospital ever since.

The Lewis Memorial Hospital was dedicated to the memory of Superintendent W. B. Lewis, the first superintendent under the National Park Service. Yosemite has been very fortunate in having Doctor Sturm as Medical Director in charge. His high qualifications and ability in many special services of medicine have given him a wide reputation. The Sturm Family have been very popular and highly regarded by everyone.

The year 1959, Doctor Sturm reported his staff consisted of four doctors and nine nurses. The present hospital has six two-bed rooms, one surgical bedroom and two three-bed wards. 1959 was an extremely large “hospital year,” with more accidents and calls than any other previous year. The hospital and staff have furnished a much needed service to Yosemite.


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