A Trip Down Memory Lane: 1971-1991

The collegial years of the hospital’s history, feeling both the stress and the opportunities associated with progress.

The 1970s saw continued growth at the hospital. In 1974 the Medical Team reached 29 members, with new doctors tending toward specialty practices including a new birthing center. In 1974 MCH was the second hospital in the country to offer water births. In 1977 MCH elected their first female Board President, Dorothy Peterson, who served on the Board of Trustees from 1975-1980.

In April 1979 the Catherine Hodgen Memorial addition cost $900,000 ($3,627,964.88 adjusted*). This addition included a new ambulance entrance, expansion in the emergency department, new facilities for outpatient surgery, updated admissions office, new record room, double size conference room, extra x-ray storage space, enlarged areas for both physical and respiratory therapy, and added a new doctors’ office building.

In the 1980s the Hospital Auxiliaries held fundraisers such as Christmas fairs, bake sales, open houses, fashion shows, and annual Regattas. They also held pancake breakfasts, a gay 90s gala, barbershop quartets, and jazz bands. In July 1983 the first Regatta was held on Contoocook Lake. It involved sailboat, canoe, and creative craft races, sack races, tug of war competition, and water balloon tossing. In 1984 the Friends of the Hospital donated a mammography unit. In 1984 New England Business Services Inc. funded the $10,000 purchase of an IBM personal computer. An average of $25,000 ($67,996.24 adjusted*) was donated during this decade.

Average length of hospital stay 1981:
National average 7.0 days
MCH 4.5 days

The average length of stay at MCH decreased from 4.7 days in 1980 to 4.5 in 1981. The national average was 7.0 days for hospitals the size of MCH. The average total cost per stay at MCH was well below average at that time.

There were many advances in technology in the 1980s. In 1982 laser eye surgery was performed for the first time at MCH by Dr. Theodore Renna. Previously patients had to travel to Boston for this procedure. In June 1983 MCH developed an infant car seat rental program, responding to the New Hampshire Child Passenger Safety Law. In 1984 the First Medical Flight from MCH took place, in partnership with UMass Medical Center in Worcester. In 1989 MCH purchased their first CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography) scan machine, added on a nuclear medicine room, and the first laparoscopic surgery was performed. In 1989 MCH opened a Hospice Room becoming one of the first hospitals in NH to designate room specifically for hospice care.

In 1989 fundraising began for another expansion. The hospital incurred long-term debt for the first time in its history. The expansion was funded with $4.5 million ($9,972,555.07 adjusted*) borrowed dollars, $2 million from donations from the community ($4,432,246.70 adjusted*), $1.9 million was from the depreciation reserve fund ($4,210,634.36 adjusted*), and $300,000 ($664,837.00 adjusted*) was interest earned by bond money before it was spent. The expansion increased square footage by 50,000 sq. ft. The new wing doubled the hospital’s size and included three operating rooms, adjacent outpatient rooms, as well as a preoperative and postoperative rooms. Today, this new wing is known as the Medical Arts Building.

*adjusted for 2022 dollars

History – Monadnock Community Hospital