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Saturday, July 15, 2017


The Nurses

This week’s article is dedicated to Marie Waller, PGH Class of 1934.

She was 102 on 10/29/13.

Few in Salisbury now can remember the Peninsula General Hospital School of Nursing. Now, aspiring candidates receive their training at Salisbury University. Medical care has become so specialized that a nurse cannot perform across the board remedial care that they once did. I am sure that anyone of a certain age can remember when a nurse was thought of as a substitute doctor. The person in that stark, crisp white uniform commanded total respect from everyone. Each wore a cap that signified from where they had graduated. It was a badge of honor and pride.

The former School of Nursing was started in January, 1905, shortly after the hospital was opened in 1904. The Superintendent of Nurses was Helen Van Devanter Wise. She got the school up and running, leaving in 1909, to return to her home town of Leesburg, VA. She moved on to private duty in Baltimore andPhiladelphia, before returning to her Alma Mater, the University of Maryland School of Nursing, in 1917. In May of 1919, she returned for good to Salisbury. She is also credited with the development of the Salisbury Municipal Park as well as the establishment of the Children’s Home. She retired in 1933, but the benefits of her endeavors remain around and with us.

In 1904, Miss Wise organized a Training School to help meet the
nursing needs of the hospital and the community. The first class of three students entered in January, 1905, all of these composing the first graduating class in 1907, leaving behind six “underclassmen”.

Miss Wise saw the need for a nursing home for the nurses in training
and also for more classroom space. She brought the idea before the Board of Directors. In 1906, they decided to build one. It was completed, with students occupying it on February 13, 1908. 

Students lived on the second and third floors, with classrooms on the first floor. When it was completed, the entire property was valued at $100,000.

The first class to graduate from the new School of Nursing was in 1910. There were just three graduates. The graduation totals did not advance much in the early years as evidenced by the following years of graduation and the number of graduates: 1911 ( two graduates), 1912 ( three graduates), 1913 (no graduates), 1914 (one graduate), 1915 (five graduates), and so forth. It was ten years before the graduating class had grown to seven and six more years before it reached its highest number of ten.

Before they graduated, they were known as “probationers” and, along with classes, performed various duties in the hospital for familiarization. The four years of intense study and training made them more than prepared to meet the medical needs of our community.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful building!

Anonymous said...

If the Affordable Health Care Act survives into the next administration,fewer and fewer doctors will continue practicing.One can easily see a resurgence in the importance of nursing if that happens.They have always been important,but they will be much more important in the coming years.

Anonymous said...

Marie Waller took care of me as a private duty nurse. She was a great nurse.

Anonymous said...

I remember going there when I was a young kid to get inoculated for something, can't remember what all I do recall was they were giving out sugar cubes. Threw the years I do recall all the pretty nurses you would see around that building!

Anonymous said...

My sister graduated from there and I remember it well. The nurses did indeed wear the crisp uniforms, and the starched caps. The white stockings, and the quiet shoes. That was a time when the nurses looked like nurses and scared patients felt safe and secure in their care. A great deal has changed over the years.

Jim said...

"..what all I do recall was they were giving out sugar cubes.."

That would have been the polio vaccine. That's how they administered it back then.

Anonymous said...

Wow George , 4 years since you wrote this article I still remember most of your posts , you are still the man in life and death.

Anonymous said...

The likelihood of lawsuits have increased the training requirements.During a medical malpractice trial,nurses are frequently asked what school of nursing they attended.When they answer that question they may also be asked in what # they graduated in that class.Therefore it would be probable that a potential employer could ask the applicant exactly where in his or class they graduated.

Anonymous said...

It was a beautiful building. But like so many beautiful senior buildings in Salisbury that spoke of city history and were most pleasing to the eye, it was torn down and hauled away to the dump and a contemporary piece of crap architecture put in its place.