Nurses at Portsmouth General Hospital (December 1937)

Portsmouth has long been a center for medical care, beginning with the city’s first professionally trained physician, Dr. Thomas Waller, who also served as President of the first City Council in 1815. Nursing in Portsmouth, one can then argue, dates back to earliest years of the nineteenth century. By December 1937, when the nurses of Portsmouth General Hospital posed for this group photo on the building’s front steps, the city had three relatively new hospitals.

Schirrman Hospital, a private, for profit facility, which opened in 1920, was located near Tracy Park, on Eighth Street. Mercy Hospital was on Kinney’s Lane, having opened the following year, in 1921; open to the public, the Third Order of the Sisters of St. Francis, under the authority of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus, operated it as a non-profit and charity. In 1924, the City of Portsmouth expanded its public hospital facilities with the construction of a new General Hospital near the intersection of Kinney’s Lane and the Scioto Trail, modern-day US-23. The hospital moved out in the late 1960s and the building eventually ended up falling into disrepair and running afoul of city health, fire, and building codes.

In 2001, the structure was condemned and later demolished by Boone Coleman Inc. Since 2011, the site has been returned to its original purpose, with a new modern medical facility, operated as King's Daughters Medical Center Ohio, with some 150 employees. Meanwhile, Shawnee State University’s nursing and other health science programs have prepared thousands of men and women for work in the region’s hospitals.