The Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad operated a hospital in this location between 1900 and 1971. The hospital served employees of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad and their families, offering free or low-cost healthcare services. Prior to 1960, C&O workers and their families could travel to the hospital at no charge, making the C&O Hospital a regional healthcare provider for railroad employees and their families.
Chesapeake and Ohio Hospital Association was established and organized on
November 1, 1897. The C&O Railroad
established hospitals throughout its rail line to provide the railroad’s
workers and families with healthcare and medicine at little cost. The hospitals maintained separate units for
African-American workers. A dispensary
for prescriptions was established in Huntington, West Virginia in 1897.
Huntington C&O Hospital opened in 1900 in a home located on 6th
Avenue and 18th Street.
Rising demand for medical services allowed for the construction of a new
building for the Huntington C&O Hospital across the street from the old
facility. The new hospital was
four-stories tall with a basement. It
maintained eighty beds. The old hospital
building received renovations and became an annex for the African-American
ward, the contagious ward, kitchens, staff dining rooms, incinerators, and
laundry rooms. The Huntington C&O
Hospital contained an x-ray department, an obstetrical floor, laboratories,
private examination rooms, an otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat)
department, and pharmacy. The medical
staff of the Huntington C&O Hospital compiled reports of the hospital,
including patient ailments and treatments, and published these as The Bulletin of The Staff of The Chesapeake
and Ohio Hospital of Huntington, West Virginia.
Huntington C&O Hospital also maintained a training school for nurses. Applicants to the nursing school were
required to be educated women between the ages of 18 and 35. The nursing school consisted of three years
of instruction through lectures, demonstrations, and classes. The nursing students received training in
surgical, medical, and gynecological care.
The nursing school was affiliated with the Cincinnati General Hospital
in Cincinnati, Ohio, which allowed senior students to complete four months of
training in pediatrics and obstetrics at that institution.
C&O Hospital system worked well to provide the railroad’s employees with
affordable healthcare until 1960 when quality healthcare became more accessible
so that the employees did not have to travel long distances to be treated at
company hospitals and with the closure of rail passenger service on C&O
lines, employees could no longer use the company’s free passes to travel to
C&O hospitals. After the Huntington
C&O Hospital closed, the building remained vacant. In 1971, the building became the Doctors’
Memorial Hospital in honor of physicians Ray R. Hagley, H.D. Pete
Proctor, and Joseph E. Chambers who lost their lives in the 1970 Marshall
University plane crash. Three years
later the building was used to house Marshall University’s newly established
medical school. As new facilities were
built for the school, the old C&O Hospital building was no longer
needed. The building was demolished in
2001 to provide parking spaces for Marshall University students.