The first articles of incorporation for Charlevoix Area Hospital were signed in February, 1919. When the two-story frame house on Hurlbut Street opened as Charlevoix’s first hospital in 1920, it consisted of 19 beds.
The house had been remodeled through funds raised in a community campaign. By 1925 an addition was built bringing the hospital capacity to 27 beds. Although it was an awkward building with surgery on the second floor and no elevator to take patients up, and narrow stairways and halls, this building served the community well until the State Fire Marshall threatened to condemn it in 1949.
At that time, W.H. Wallace, E.J. Edwards and Earl Young had already raised $4,800 toward a new building and plans had been drawn. With the help of Hill-Burton funds, $294,000 in contributions and donation of land which was formerly an auto campsite on the lakeshore, construction began in July 1953. On August 22, 1954, the new 44-bed hospital was dedicated.
That hospital remains the core of the present Charlevoix Area Hospital. With community support, improvements have been made over the years and services added. A major addition built in 1980 included a new surgical wing – named the Gilbert Saltonstall wing after the hospital’s revered physician who retired in 1978 after 43 years of practice.
In 1958 EKG’s were offered for the first time, the solarium was added in 1957, physical therapy in 1968, and respiratory therapy in 1973. Ultrasound was added to the radiology department in 1978 and in 1986, mammography equipment was purchased.
In 1972 $200,000 was raised enabling the opening of the Coronary and intensive Care Units. A single donation in 1987 made the new Cardiac Stress testing Laboratory possible. In 1988 contributions from individuals, businesses, and organizations provided the necessary funds to equip the operating rooms to begin eye surgery. Laparoscopic surgery used for outpatient gallbladder removal and for other outpatient surgical procedures was initiated in 1991.
A building fund campaign in the summer of 1991 raised $1.6 million toward a $3.5 million building project. As a result a new surgical suite and single room concept obstetrical unit are a reality. In addition, a new admitting area and emergency and surgical waiting area, kitchen and dining room were part of the building program.
A building project campaign that began in 1999 raised $6 million toward a $10 million building expansion and renovation. The 47,000 square foot addition opened in 2002 and included new medical patient rooms, the addition of four obstetric rooms, a new emergency department complete with a helicopter pad for emergency transports.
The medical staff consists of 35 physicians on the active staff. They include family practitioners, internal medicine specialists, general and orthopaedic surgeons, obstetricians, pediatricians and a radiologist. The courtesy and consulting staff gives our patients access to urologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, otolaryngologists, ophthalmologists, pathologists and infectious disease specialists.