Beginnings (1950 -1970)

The NCH Healthcare System History

An effort in 1949 sought $40,000 for a clinic, but the plan was abandoned after only $20,000 was raised.

In 1952 things began to change, with the effort focusing on a 25-bed hospital. The effort brought incorporation in April 1953 for Naples Memorial Hospital as a non-profit organization.

Ten citizens pledged to underwrite $250,000 for the hospital – half of what was needed. A renewed effort from the 1949 plan for community funds put the project past its goal in 1954.

Groundbreaking on the first building was held Dec. 21, 1954 and the name changed to Naples Community Hospital in November 1955.

The hospital was dedicated in a community ceremony on March 4, 1956, and opened its doors three days later on March 7, 1956, to its first patient, 6-year-old Evelyn Hall, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Troy Hall. The attending physician was Dr. William Bailey to repair stitches in her eyelid that she had received after running into a wire fence.

In a special “Hospital Edition” after years of coverage of the attempt to establish such a medical facility, the Collier County News, which would become the Naples Daily News, bannered the headline: “New Hospital A Naples Triumph.”

It wasn’t long before growth became a key word in every Neapolitan’s vocabulary.

In 1963, the “Space Program” was instituted in the spring to raise funds for an expansion of the hospital. In all, $1.7 million would be raised for a new laboratory, X-ray and physical therapy department, and an emergency room.

As an interim help with demands on the hospital, the Board of Trustees approved construction of an addition and groundbreaking on the building took place in July 1963 and it opened to patients on Jan. 6, 1964. NCH’s bed capacity was raised to 62.

The NCH “Space Program” expansion saw its groundbreaking on March 7, 1965, nine years and two days after the hospital’s opening. At the time it was the biggest construction job in Collier County history.

Construction on the expansion project was completed in 1966 and the new facilities opened in December with NCH then having 116 beds. In the next year, by December 1967, NCH was running at full patient capacity and the Board of Trustees began finalizing plans for the next expansion of 50 additional beds and shells for additional floors for future expansions.

May 1969 saw construction begin for NCH’s Special Care Wing. It was the year that the Dual Progress Program was launched to develop financial support for upgrading technical facilities and another bed expansion. The new section would include an intensive care unit, cardiac care unit and progressive care unit. More than $3 million was raised in this effort.

Continue to: Acceleration of Growth (1970 - 1990)

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