Bonners Ferry Community Hospital

The following stories are taken from the "History of Boundary County," Idaho published by the Boundary County Historical Society in 1987.

     The former Bonners Ferry Community Hospital was located where the present Restorium stands. My arrival, to become part of the nursing staff was in 1954. Drs. R. M. Bowell and F. W. Durose were the only physicians at that time. They were ingenious doing procedures with minimal equipment. "Prepared Kits" were not "in" at that time. We did blood alcohols even then. Being new in the profession to withdraw blood petrified me. Our older aide would console me with "They are too drunk to notice." The fellow who kept flexing the tourniquet out of place still stands out in my mind.

     We did not have the rules and "regs" we now have. Empirin with codeine came in bottles of one thousand tablets, and we did not have to sign them out. Of course, the day came when I dropped an open bottle of one thousand tablets! The whole hospital was of wood construction, including the floors - much easier to work on than concrete. The elevator was run by water pressure. Upon entering the elevator you Historyhand-pulled the cables to get to the second floor (medical-surgical ward), or to the basement where the kitchen had a large wood stove for cooking the meals. The X-ray was also in the basement. The fruit room was directly behind the wall into which the X-ray machine was directed. The walls were unleaded.

     The nursing staff would stoke the wood furnace on evenings and nights. It was difficult to keep the two-story building warm in the coldest of winter. We would chart with a blanket around our shoulders. Our obstetrical delivery room was on the main floor, near the back door. When a delivery was imminent the accepted practive was to give our patients chloroform - ten drops per contraction on a gauze mask over her face. This is no longer a part of any anesthesia.

     We had an aide, an older lady, who would encourage our OB's in labor by telling them, "Say your rosary," or "Say the Lord's Prayer," depending on the patient's religious preference. Our incubator was a large wooden box which had light bulbs for added warmth. there was no such thing as transferring a baby to another facility for intensive care. We accommodated those infants, no matter what size they were, including the wee two-pounders.

     The surgery was located near the front door. We used it as a thoroughfare to enter the emergency and supply rooms. The doors were always open except during an operation. The anesthesia was either by local injection or by drip ether on a gauze mask. The best part of the anesthesia was Margaret Sunderland's voice, soft and reassuring.

     Much has changed through the years, and I have enjoyed being a part of it into the 1980's.

                       by Veryl Lindsay Note: Veryl retired from the medical community in the spring of 1996.


     We had a house full of diphtheria and he (Dr. E.E.Fry) came out there and mother had just baked a cake and he was looking in the silverware box and Mother said ,"Oh, I've got a spoon," - she thought he wanted a tongue depressor. "Oh," he said, "I can't eat cake with a spoon." He was getting himself a fork to get some cake.

     When my first boy was born he stayed down there the whole day. It was Dad's birthday and he had birthday dinner with the folks.

     Dr. Fry died in 1937. Mr. Vaughn brought the whole group of Indians to the funeral in the old high school and they all marched by his casket. Dr. Fry was called down to the Indian Mission to deliver a baby and they didn't have anything to use as a delivery table, so he had them take one of the doors off the church, clean it up, and put it on blocks. I said, "What a wonderful mission for a Mission Church door."

     When Dr. Fry was appointed health officer he said, "There shall be a cleaning up of the town. There will be no pigpens and only one load of manure allowed."

                        by Caroline Knox

This page updated 13 Nov 2009

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