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County Hospitals
Milestones Vol 24 No 1 Spring 1999

Beaver Valley General Hospital, New Brighton

The medical profession has a history in Beaver County dating from before the county was established. However, the first "doctors" were unlike today's physicians.

When the pioneer families crossed the Allegheny Mountains to settle in the vast wilderness of Western Pennsylvania, they brought with them their indominatable spirit.

There were no stores in which to purchase life's necessities, and there were no settlers trained in the professions waiting here to serve them. They had to do it all themselves.

So, they had to rely on a member of the family for treating illnesses and injuries and that task usually fell to the woman of the house.

Those hardy pioneer women, with a few splints and cloth bandages, and their "old wives." concoctions, treated everything from cuts and scrapes to broken arms and legs, and from colds to pneumonia.

They weren't always successful, but there was no one else around to care for the sick and injured. Each family had its own "doctor".

As more settlers moved into the western part of the state and villages sprang up, the need for trained physicians arose.

One of the first (probably the first) physician in Beaver County was Dr. Samuel Adams, who settled at the upper falls on the Beaver River (in what is now Beaver Falls) before 1800.

Dr. Adams had come west from Rowley, Mass., and first settled on Chartiers Creek in Washington County before moving to the Beaver Valley.

He bought some 400 acres of Ian on the banks of the Beaver, built a cabin, and erected a dam, gristmill and sawmill. The area where the doctor settled was called Adarnsville.

At that time, Dr. Adams and his oldest son, Milo, were the only physicians west of Pittsburgh. The two doctors spent a great deal of time on horseback, traveling many miles to treat the sick and injured.

Mrs. Adams also had acquired a great deal of knowledge about medicine, and when her husband and son were away, she frequently set broken limbs and prescribed medicines.

Dr. Adams died in 1832 at 70 years of age, but his son remained in the county, practicing medicine until his death in 1846. He also served as sheriff of the county from 1842 to 1845.

After 1800, when Beaver County was established, more settlers and among them more physicians were making the county their home. They established practices in the various towns that were developing from the early cross-roads settlements.

One of those who arrived was Dr. Joseph Linnenbrink, who served as physician to the Harmony Society from 1848 until his death in 1871.

Many physicians settled in Beaver and the borough became known as the "Town of Doctors".

Still, however, there were no centralized medical treatment facilities. Patients, if they were able, went to the doctors' homes. If they were not, the doctors made house calls.

It was not until the latter part of the 19th century that what could be termed hospital care was provided in Beaver County, and even when a centralized facility was established, it hardly resembled what we think of today as a hospital.

The second floor of an old firehall at Seventh Avenue and 11th Street in Beaver Falls was the first place where hospitalization was provided. Below the patients, on the first floor of the building, was a stable.

Then, in 1894, a group of citizens met in the old Merchant's Hotel, Ninth Avenue and Fifth Street, Beaver Falls, and decided that a permanent hospital was necessary to treat the sick and injured.

They rented a portion of the hotel for $40 a month and obtained a hospital charter. Finally, on Jan. 1, 1895, the formal opening was held for the Beaver Valley General Hospital - the first true hospital in the county.

In its first year, the hospital served 103 patients. Then, on July 1, 1896, the hospital was moved into the former Kenwood School for Boys on what is now the site of New Brighton Unit of the Medical Center of Beaver County.

The county's second hospital was started in a private home in the middle of an apple orchard on the corner of Pinney Street and Kentucky Avenue in Rochester. It was founded by a group of physicians who named it Beaver County General Hospital.

Rochester General Hospital

It opened in May, 1899, with 15 beds. A new hospital was constructed in 1906 and the original was torn down in 1908. When the old building was raze , t e name of the facility was changed to Rochester General Hospital.

Providence General Hospital opened in Beaver Falls on Oct. 13, 1909. It was located in a mansion on the old Reeves Homestead.

Providence Hospital and Nurses Home, Beaver Falls.

The three hospitals continued to serve Beaver County until Aliquippa Hospital opened its doors on May 12, 1957, as a 100-bed facility to serve the southern portion of the county.

Then, in April, 1965, Providence and Beaver Valley General Hospitals merged. The two were officially renamed United Hospital Inc., in 1969.

Finally, the Medical Center of Beaver County was formed on April 11, 1972, through the consolidation of United Hospital and Rochester General Hospital.

Aliquippa Hospital continues to serve the southern portion of Beaver County.

Beaver County Times 175th Anniversary Edition