Morenci's two older hospitals 2009.09.16

Written by David Green.

Morenci’s “new hospital” on Sims Highway is likely to be demolished soon, but the community’s two older hospitals will remain standing.blanchardhospital.jpg

According to Morenci’s history book, “Our Journey in Time,” the Blanchard Hospital was established Jan. 15, 1935, after Dr. James A. Blanchard purchased the former home of Dr. H.L. Older on N. Summit Street, across from the United Methodist Church.

Dr. Blanchard began his practice in Morenci in 1930 and he set a goal of establishing a hospital in order to serve patients from the area without having to transfer them to Adrian or other locations.

He equipped the Older house for use as a private hospital with 16 beds, six bassinets, an operating room, a sterilizing room and a nursery. There was also a laundry facility and kitchen in the basement.

Dr. Blanchard opened the facility to any licensed physician or surgeon who cared to use it.

In 1960, an inspection by the state fire marshal led to an order for improvements to meet state standards. Due to the cost of the changes, the hospital was closed in 1961.

In its 26 years of operation, 1,734 births were recorded and 13,000 patients were admitted.

Morenci’s other older hospital—believed to be the first private hospital in Lenawee County—is located next to the Observer office on North Street.

Dr. Hal Blair had the building constructed in 1908 and it was used as a hospital through the late 1920s.

The waiting room and doctor’s office was on the first floor and the operating room was on the second floor, along with five beds.

For $15 a week (payable in advance), a patient was given room, board, dressings and the services of a nurse. The operating room charge was $5 and anesthetic cost $10.

Orla Bachman was the only nurse who worked at all three of Morenci’s hospitals. She told the story of the first X-ray machine at Dr. Blair’s office, which appears in “Our Journey in Time.”

“The patient was given an anesthetic and put on the examining table which was partly constructed of iron. After the machine was turned on the doctor became entangled with the cord and the patient was shocked into unconsciousness. Miss Bachman was holding the patient and she also received such a shock that the ends of her toes were burned.”

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