October marked another milestone for the Guthrie Clinic as it was the 90th anniversary of the dedication of the first Guthrie Clinic building.
Dr. Donald Guthrie began to inform the board of the Robert Packer Hospital, beginning with the annual report of the institution in 1920, that there was a need for a nurses home and a clinic building. This became a reality in 1927 when construction began on a building that would hold the clinic departments that Dr. Guthrie began to form upon his arrival in Sayre in 1910. The cornerstone for the clinic was laid on Jan. 14, 1928.
On Thursday, Oct. 11, 1928, under broiling sun, the dedication of the new Guthrie Clinic building in Sayre took place. The exercises began promptly at 2 p.m. with the Lehigh Valley Shops band playing a selection "Onward Christian Soldiers," while the supervisors, nursing staff, student nurses and probationers marched to seats assigned them, singing the hymn. The invocation was given by the Rt. Rev. Paul A. Kelly, vicar general of the diocese of Scranton of the Roman Catholic Church.
Loudspeakers were placed at advantageous points on the grounds so that the voices of the speakers could be distinctly heard anywhere.
Dr. Guthrie expressed his deep appreciation and gratitude to the public and the board of directors of the hospital for the building and for the dedication of the building in his name. He also spoke feelingly of the deep-rooted feeling for the old friends he made when he first came to Sayre 20 years ago. He stated that they were closer to him than those he made in later years. He mentioned the activities of the board of directors and what they had accomplished and how much work and time they had given to the Robert Packer Hospital. The generosity of one of its members was especially stressed and, in his remarks, he told of how this man had made it possible to accomplish so much in the construction of the nurses' home and the new clinic. The man he referred to was Charles D. Marvin of Owego, N.Y. He also eulogized President E. E. Loomis of the Lehigh Valley Railroad for his interest in the institution, telling of the countless activities of this busy man's life and how he unselfishly gave up various duties to come here to help in intricate matters pertaining to the hospital.
The vision of the future for the hospital was told in how they had built different passages in contemplation of erecting a large six-story structure to do away with the one old wooden building and how these different passages will be utilized to connect with the larger unit. The old wooden building was replaced after the fire in 1933.
A glowing compliment was also paid to his hospital family which barred none of the employees.
In the introduction of Dr. Charles Mayo of the Mayo Brothers Clinic, of Rochester, Minn., Dr. Guthrie spoke of his association at the clinic in his early days and the intense feeling he had for it and the official family. Dr. Mayo then addressed the assemblage on group medicine. He also made a glowing tribute to Dr. Guthrie's father and family.
In his remarks, he spoke of the advancement of man in the past 50 years and wondered what it would be in the next generation. The marvelous accomplishments that have gone on are just in their infancy and the human mind can accomplish almost anything that it sets out to do. The physical development of man has about attained its limit but no so his mental ability. It is 50 years since the hospital idea was inaugurated and, in that time, it has grown in leaps and bounds. He spoke of this as being an installment age, but that man had made no plans to take care of his health, so someone else must look after it for him. The progress of medicine was dwelt upon and of what it had accomplished in the elimination of fevers and contagious diseases and plagues. He compared the conditions existing during the Spanish-American War with those that prevailed during the World War. In the former, thousands died with disease without preventative measures where in the World War the enlisted man had to be physically and mentally perfect and the sanitary conditions of the camps was also commented upon. He paid high tribute to the cleanliness of the Japanese during the Russo-Japanese war, stating that this was the real cause of their winning the war.
Cleanliness and learning how to live were the paramount features of today and preventative medicine was the medicine of today. How many who should have had their heath looked after in early years are today the ones who are filling our hospitals! The health idea must be started with the birth of a child. No man has a right to live in a community and endanger it. Eighty-seven percent of the deaths today are due to some type of infection that can be overcome if taken in time. By grouping medicine, the doctor can overcome the great overhead expense and make it possible for the average man to take advantage of their findings. Every community should have its hospital and the modern nurse should take the place of the doctor in the outlying districts to a great extent. He stated that several institutions had made very flattering offers to Dr. Guthrie but his vision of the future of the Robert Packer Hospital was too great to think of accepting them. He spoke of his inspiration and radiant energy and also mentioned the fact of the necessity for a building for medicine and research work.
Herbert Adams Gibbons of Princeton, N.J., in concluding the program, said that five words express the success of the hospital and its nursng staff: "Skill, Conservation, Enthusiasm, Faith and Vision."
The new building held a spacious lobby on the first floor. Surrounding the lobby were the business and administrative offices with a suite of private offices for the superintendent, and his associates which was in close relation to bookkeeping and records department. On the south side, administrative offices for the hospital were housed. Adjacent to the lobby was a completely equipped pharmacy.
On the second floor was the main clinical waiting room where patients waited for assignments to various medical departments which were located on the second and third floors. (There is a set of the waiting room furniture in the Sayre Museum).
On the fourth floor was the laboratory and a stack room and a studio for the surgical artist. A complete surgical dressing section for out patients was provided on the ground floor as well as an ambulance entrance and emergency operating room.
The project had been received and planned to provide the doctors at Guthrie Clinic with the finest modern physical equipment, which was so necessary for the practice of medicine.
To assure this outcome, the board of trustees retained the firm of Ellerbe & Company architects, who had a national reputation for designing the most important clinic buildings in the country.
Henry Farley is a founding member and a current board member of the Sayre Historical Society. He is also president of the Bradford County Historical Society and serves as archivist for the Guthrie Clinic.