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In 1920, Dr. James Davis realized his boyhood dream with the opening of Carpenter-Davis Hospital. Located on South Center Street, the hospital was a result of an arrangement between Dr. Davis, a prominent surgeon, and Dr. F. A. Carpenter, an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist. According to historians, the custom at that time was for a physician to make house calls as well as have a small office for patient visits. With the opening of the 35-bed Carpenter-Davis Hospital, Dr. Davis changed this by establishing a group arrangement with assistants, nurses, technicians, and associate doctors.
The Davis of the past. Davis Hospital at present.
In May of that same year, the hospital established the School of Nursing with only three ladies in the freshman class. Miss Elizabeth Hill, a graduate of Mitchell College and the School of Nursing at Charlotte Sanatorium, (today Carolina Medical Center), was the entire nursing staff. In addition to organizing the School of Nursing, Miss Hill was the first Superintendent of
Nurses at Davis, (considered today Director of Nursing/Chief Clinical Officer). The School of Nursing continued operations until 1984, graduating at least 720 people from the three-year nursing school. Interestingly, all of the graduates were women, except for one man, according to a long-time instructor.
In the hospital’s second year of operation Dr. Carpenter died, leaving Dr. Davis to operate the hospital. While continuing to run the hospital, Dr. Davis began searching for land for a new hospital. He chose a “cow pasture” near the Wagner homestead on West End Avenue, his grandmother’s home. This site would later become the home of his 250-bed hospital.
On December 17, 1925, Davis Hospital moved from its South Center Street location to a handsome, new building on West End Avenue. An article appearing in the local paper, The Landmark, described the new ,000 hospital as “thoroughly equipped. Of the most approved design and construction and with scientific equipment in every department, the new hospital is one of the most modern and completely equipped institutions of this type in North Carolina.”
Davis Hospital in it’s prime.
In a Statesville paper written by Dr. Davis, he cited some of the firsts that he and his hospital were responsible for, such as:
• One of the first hospitals in North Carolina to use a radiographoscope to view x-ray films. (Radiographoscope was invented by a North Carolina physician).
• One of the very first Emergency Departments in North Carolina to be open and staffed by a physician 24 hours a day, seven days a week – not unusual today, but a significant accomplishment in the 1920s.
• One of the first hospitals in North Carolina and one of the first in the United States to install air conditioning in the operating rooms. Utilizing air conditioning is a standard practice today, but not in the early years of healthcare.
• One of the first hospitals in the United States to use glucose intravenously.
• An early organizer of blood-donor services and had a blood bank very early in its history.
The hospital as it appears today.
Throughout the years, Dr. Davis continued his quest of excellence in healthcare with the addition of a maternity wing, more patient rooms, and expanded surgical facilities. Unfortunately the largest and most significant addition of a diagnostic clinic was completed in September 1955, just three months after his death.
Davis in the past. Davis at present.
Remembered throughout North Carolina as a dynamic, driving businessman and a leader in state and national Republican politics, Dr. Davis was credited with performing over 75,000 surgical procedures, a truly remarkable accomplishment. Announcement of his death brought countless telegrams, letters, and telephone messages of sympathy from many Republican and Democratic party leaders, doctors across the nation, and also from the American Medical Association. Dr. Davis was praised as a visionary who gave his whole life for the advancement of medical science. Abiding by his wishes, Dr. Davis was buried in an unpretentious tomb on the south lawn of the West End Avenue hospital. (Upon sale of the West End Avenue property, Dr. Davis’ tomb was later moved to Davis Memorial Baptist Church in Wilkes County.)
Davis Hospital continued to operate from the West End location until 1981. Over time 17 additions were made and the need for a newer more modern facility became apparent. Construction on a million dollar state-of-the-art facility began in April 1983. On March 24, 1984, Davis moved 58 patients from the West End location to their new hospital on Old Mocksville Road, a 149-bed facility.
I couldn’t find the exact date the old place’s doors were last closed to patients, but it was likely sometime that year, meaning the hospital was probably completely empty by 1985.
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Even the bathrooms at the library are designed well.
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Well designed bathroom