Physicians Hospital of Plattsburgh
The first decade of the twentieth century brought another major improvement in medical service to the Champlain Valley. This area, without a hospital at the turn of the century, had two facilities by January, 1911, when the Physicians Hospital opened its doors. It was located in the renovated Thomas Mansion on the corner of William and Court streets. This building exists today as the Kimball Apartments, at 116 Court Street.
The Physicians Hospital was "conceived" by Dr. Cassius D. Silver, a prominent local physician, and a group of his colleagues. On a number of occasions, Dr. Silver recounted to his colleagues his early experiences "performing operations on the kitchen table, by the light of kerosene lamps, close to the kitchen stove where water was kept boiling to sterilize my instruments." Like the Grey Nuns, these physicians were concerned about the lack of medical facilities in the North Country and they pooled their resources to create the Physicians Hospital. The new hospital was equipped to care for 30 patients, and had the capacity to add 68 beds by expanding into the mansion's vacant third floor. The hospital had a Women's Ward, a Children's Ward, and ten private rooms.
Several years after it opened, the hospital built an addition to meet the increased medical needs of the community. Later, funds were raised and plans drawn to construct an entirely new facility on a new site. Deteriorating economic conditions in the aftermath of World War I, however forced the Physicians Hospital to put aside its building plans.
Because of poor economic conditions and a low census, Physicians hospital encountered severe financial problems which required several basic changes. On May 18, 1917, the Board of Directors elected to become a non-profit corporation. This placed the hospital under the supervision of the Board of Charities and ended burdensome taxation expenses. In addition, the Physicians Hospital,which had operated as a semi-private institution, became a public facility. As a result of these changes, the outlook for Physicians Hospital began to brighten. Patients came to the facility in record numbers. The old mansion soon outgrew its various additions and became crowded. Talk of a more spacious structure began. Dr. Cassius D. Silver, who had figured so prominently in the founding of the hospital, obtained the financial support for a new facility from his close friends, Mr. and Mrs. William H. Miner. At the time of his death in April, 1966, Dr. Silver's story, explaining how the Physicians Hospital came to be located on the site of the current Medical Center appeared.