Valley Regional Hospital has served the people of Claremont and surrounding towns for more than 100 years. Evolving with the needs of its patients, the hospital has grown from its humble start as Cottage Hospital to the modern healthcare center for excellence it is today.
In 1837, prominent landowners Amos and Jane Keyes built a small farmhouse and outbuildings on a 100-acre lot, known as number 52, where they resided and farmed for many years. As years passed and Claremont grew, more house lots were needed and the property was subdivided and changed hands many times. The farmhouse and outbuildings erected by Amos Keyes survived on a 30 acre parcel. In 1892, the former Keyes farm was up for sale once again. For the buyers eyeing the property, farming was the furthest thing from their minds.
The Need for a Hospital: Ladies Union Aid Society
The textile industry boom of the latter 1800’s brought a massive influx of working families, quickly transforming Claremont from sleepy farm town to thriving city. By 1886, the plight of Claremont’s working families with no hope of assistance or medical care could not be ignored. Women from local churches banded together to see what could be done. In February 1892, the volunteers assembled and the Ladies Union Aid Society was born.
LUAS needed a centralized location to ensure easy access to their services. For $3,500, the Society purchased the Keyes farmhouse, stables, and sheds in October 1892. The first capital campaign began Valley Regional’s long history of philanthropy, with fundraisers and the generosity of local businesses, churches, and even a small sum from the local children.
The new “facility” needed renovations to the house, furnishings, and hospital beds, which were all provided for through church donations, fundraising, and the generous gifts of the townspeople. On July 13, 1893, the citizens of Claremont assembled for the dedication of Cottage Hospital- the first of its kind in Sullivan County, and the third established in New Hampshire. Patient numbers at the new hospital grew quickly- nearly doubling each year, and the existing seven beds would soon be overwhelmed. Through the generosity of one donation, an additional eight rooms were added, doubling capacity. The new Leland J. Graves Memorial Wing was dedicated on November 4, 1896.
Cottage Hospital established a nurse training school, to increase the number of qualified personnel in the region. The response was overwhelming, and the training school “Nurse’s Home”, was completed in May 1908. A welcome addition, it included classrooms, bathrooms, a living area, and seven bedrooms. The building is now used for physician and staff offices.
Stowell Memorial Hospital
Patient demand continued, and the need to expand the hospital again became apparent. In 1923, the expansion resulted in one of the most state-of-the-art facilities in New England. It was now equipped with dedicated inpatient and maternity wings, a complete operating suite, x-ray rooms, kitchens, and even an electric-light nurse call system. With the renovation, all older buildings save the Nurse’s Home were torn down. Such a dramatic transition in the level of care necessitated a new name, and Cottage Hospital became Stowell Memorial Hospital.
Expansion and Renovation
In the face of the Great Depression, with many nurses out of work, the Nurse’s School finally closed its doors in 1934. World War II brought about even more changes. In 1942, the hospital became Claremont General Hospital, with updates to the operating suite and inpatient wings. The war drove up the cost of healthcare, and expenses for many procedures doubled during this period.
By 1957, major renovation and expansion of the hospital became necessary once more. The improvements included thirty new beds, an improved maternity ward, new surgical wing, and a radiology and laboratory department. The new three-story east wing once again boosted the hospital to the forefront of modern healthcare.
Modern Healthcare at Valley Regional Hospital
An extensive renovation in 1982 provided a new wing that enabled Claremont General to accommodate the needs of the community and begin surrounding region of Sullivan County as well. To reflect this wider scope of care, the hospital became Valley Regional Hospital early in 1983.
For more than 30 years, Valley Regional Hospital has been able to serve the needs of our community. Most recently, we have completed substantial updates in 2010, creating private patient rooms, expanding the emergency department, and improving access to services. We have focused on internal renovations and upgrades, which has been able to keep pace with the continually changing best practices of the healthcare industry.