TV Link2

Sentinel E-edition | subscription services | contact us/forms | advertise | help wanted | classifieds | public notices | realtors
The Rochester Sentinel. | Rochester, IN

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Inserts 5-24-16

About us
E-edition, how to set up
Local links
What's Happening calendar
Area churches
School announcements
Joke of the day

W.S. Wilson special projects
Local military

Considered Comment
• May 2010
• April 2010
• March 2010
• February 2010
• January 2010
• December 2009
• November 2009
• October 2009
• September 2009
• August 2009
• July 2009
• June 2009
• May 2009
• April 2009
• March 2009
• February 2009
• January 2009
• December 2008
• November 2008
• October 2008
• September 2008
• August 2008
• July 2008
• June 2008
• May 2008
• April 2008
• March 2008
• February 2008
• January 2008
• December 2007
• November 2007
• October 2007
• August 2007
• July 2007
• June 2007
• May 2007
• April 2007
• March 2007
• February 2007
• January 2007
• Considered Comment
• Selected past columns
• Rochester, once the model small town of the Midwest
• The Klan in Fulton County
• Rochester's Circus Saga
• Fulton County families go to war
• A Richland Township boy finds a wife and family
• A short history of the city's movie theatres
• The Spanish Flu's effects on Fulton County
• The history and continuing saga of Baileys' Hardware
JKO books
History of Rochester
Early Manitou views
Early Rochester scenes

Fulton County bike routes
Nickel Plate Trail Map
Fulton County map
Rochester city map
Culver Map

Spring Sports 16
Honor Roll of Businesses 15-16

home : considered comment : august 2008 May 24, 2016

12/8/2009 8:00:00 AM

By all accounts, Dr. Winfield Scott Shafer was an extremely likable man. He had a persistently sunny disposition and a vigorous sense of humor. Both were pleasant accompaniments to a tireless attention to his patients' needs.

Most importantly, though, Winfield Shafer was a progressive thinker among 19th century Victorian conservatives. He had vision, and he saw a brighter future beckoning in medicine, public health, education, civics and industry. He was ahead of his time and he was not satisfied with concepts; he sought action.

For example, in 1894, a year after arriving in Rochester, he took over stalled efforts to found a teachers' college here and in just one year had secured the site and financed its construction. Rochester Normal University lasted 17 years.

Then, in November, 1905, this 53-year-old physician embarked upon the mission that would make the Shafer name indelible in the city's history.

He bought an imposing white frame home, with two floors of columned porches, from the estate of the late Judge Sidney Keith. It was at Seventh and Pontiac Streets, site of the Fulton County Public Library today.

Dr. Shafer had become convinced that his beloved Rochester must have its own hospital if it was to grow and prosper. He would provide it. He moved his family into the ground floor of the Keith house and furnished the second with beds and a surgery. Few small Indiana cities of that day possessed such a hospital; now Rochester did.

The Keith house was set amidst sheltering oaks and maples on an expansive green lawn. The hospital became known as "The Woodlawn" and it has been thus ever since.

In nearly 103 years from that modest beginning, Woodlawn Hospital has weathered all of its subsequent crises to remain an abiding and comforting presence in the Rochester and Fulton County community. Today it stands at the city's east side, again on a green, tree-filled site that once was the Carithers woods and bird sanctuary. There Woodlawn still pursues its eternal mission: to care, in a personal way, for the health of the county's citizens who own it and others who may need its compassion.

Sustaining this mission has not been easy. Winfield Shafer's death at 64 in 1916 was hurried by the demands of the institution he created. His elder son, Dr. Howard O. Shafer, left a Chicago surgical practice to keep Woodlawn in the Shafer family. He doubled the size of the original home to treat an increasing number of patients. The rigors of his surgical and management duties wore him out and he died just 15 years after replacing his father. He was 52.

Private ownership of Woodlawn then passed in 1932 to another surgeon, Dr. Milton E. Leckrone, son of a doctor and a progressive like the Shafers. He erected a 22-room brick building in 1936 to replace the original Keith residence and the hospital prospered. Yet pressures exacted by Woodlawn on its three surgeon-owners were relentless. Leckrone died of a heart attack in October, 1945, only 44 years old. No other physician was willing to accept such a precarious ownership. And so, shortly after Leckrone's death Woodlawn had to be closed, its fate undetermined. Many feared that the county's citizens would be deprived of local hospital care.

However, this first Woodlawn crisis was met quickly and our hospital rescued from oblivion. After 2,000 freeholders petitioned for it, county officials approved a $65,000 bond issue and Woodlawn reopened with 25 beds on January 7, 1946. For 62 years now, it has been a county-owned institution governed by a commissioner-appointed Board of Trustees.

Our county's citizen-owners have watched carefully over Woodlawn ever since, even if their frequent debates over the course of its future have been rather strenuous. Nevertheless, the hospital has improved consistently as a result of it.

In 1956 the last of the frame structure disappeared and an all-brick hospital appeared with 68 beds. The public helped make that happen by supporting a $583,000 bond issue campaign.

Twenty years later it became obvious that Woodlawn on its residential site was inadequate for proper patient care. Citizen involvement was vigorous and vital in the decision to relocate and modernize. That helped bring about the present handsome building at the city's east edge in 1978. The cost was $5.4 million; the hospital's own funds provided almost $1 million.

Altogether, this is a remarkable record of citizen support for its unique community hospital. And now Woodlawn's exceptional history arrives at its present, which is but a prologue to the future. The hospital is about to receive an extremely well-planned redirection of its services to meet the changes required by its 21st century patients.

The prime example of that change explains all the rest that will follow it. Private rooms in the 1978 hospital were important to its appeal and success, for in-patient care then was the hospital's main function.

Times change and 30 years later, patients now want their services on an out-patient basis, as quickly and comprehensively as possible. Result: 78 percent of Woodlawn's total revenue now is derived from out-patient services.

But the building was not designed for that. Therefore, out-patient services will be centralized on the lower floor for better out-patient care --- from registration through surgery, post-surgery and specialized out-patient departments. The other Woodlawn improvements will flow from solving this need, including access to specialized care, easier registration, better emergency services, separate waiting areas, all the while in-patient and obstetrical services continue at their present expert levels.

I have been involved in each of the hospital's improvement campaigns for 54 years and observed the variations of its progress. I can state unequivocally that today Woodlawn is the best it ever has been: beginning with the farsighted board of trustees and continuing through its general manager, administrators, public relations, surgical and medical staffs and the most compassionate nursing and employee groups ever assembled there.

I was a Woodlawn surgical patient once, as was my wife Marge three times on an emergency basis. Those experiences left us both with an abiding sense of comfort at the existence among us of this hospital and its people.

Woodlawn's leaders have overseen efficiently the hospital's progress to qualify it for the construction and interest loans that will reach $20.6 million. We citizens are asked to participate by pledging another $1.25 milllion over five years for equipment and furnishings. Already $580,000 of this amount is in; $130,000, significantly, by hospital employees alone.

Groundbreaking for the two years of construction will be in mid-September. By then or soon afterward Woodlawn Campaign workers will be calling on you or your group. Listen carefully and then give what you can. It's not the size of pledge that matters here. It's the number of us who make it that will display the admiration we have for Woodlawn.

Article Comment Submission Form
Please feel free to submit your comments.

Submissions to this site are not automatically accepted. They are subject to review, which might delay their appearance. Obscenity and personal attacks are not considered appropriate for this site.

Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

Latest Rochester, Indiana, weather

weather sponsored by
Smith Farm Store

Top Ads
Business Card Directory

Top Jobs
Good Oil Company, Inc.
Advance Services, Inc.

Recipe Central 2015

© 2016 The Sentinel Corporation
118 E. Eighth St. P.O. Box 260 • Rochester, IN 46975 • 574-223-2111

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved