POMEROY — More than a dozen years have passed since the closing of Veterans Memorial Hospital, now an empty shell of a building, but the happy memories of employees who worked there just linger on.
Every year in September they gather for a time of reflection and reminiscing. This year, that reunion will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Mulberry Community Center, formerly the Pomeroy Elementary School, in Pomeroy.
That day marks the 50th anniversary of the 1962 dedication of what was first named Meigs Memorial Hospital and then changed to Veterans Memorial Hospital and rededicated in that name on June 26, 1971.
When the hospital first opened, it was a 41-bed facility which included general, surgical and obstetric beds. In 1971, the hospital was so busy that more beds were needed. An addition was built to bring it up to an 88-bed facility. Then in 1985, 25 of the beds were converted to a skilled nursing facility.
Holzer Consolidated Health Systems took over the hospital in the late 1990s while building a new clinic on an adjacent lot.At that time, Veterans Memorial Hospital was changed from a hospital to an acute care facility with an emergency room for a time, before being fully shut down in 2000. The skilled nursing facility closed down on Sept. 1, 2002, leaving the building empty.
A year ago the building — built with tax dollars in 1961-62 as a tribute to veterans of World Wars I and II — was emptied of all its furnishings which were sold at public auction, a first step toward the planned destruction of the county-owned building. It hasn’t yet happened.
This year’s VMH gathering of former employees, volunteers and others who were associated with the hospital will mark another year of “remember when.” The planning committee is inviting all to attend.
There will be a display table for VMH memorabilia like photos and scrapbooks. Those attending are asked to take a canned food item for the Parish’s food pantry and finger foods or a dessert for the refreshment time.