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Medical History of Huntington Trail
Item 8 of 13
Located at 1230 6th Avenue, River Park Hospital is one of two inpatient psychiatric facilities in Huntington. The hospital’s origins can be traced to 1923, when Dr. Arthur Shade Jones founded the Huntington Children’s Hospital in a former residence. In 1929, the facility was relocated and renamed the Huntington Orthopedic Hospital. It moved to River Park Hospital’s current location, a mansion that was originally built in 1918, in 1948. Huntington Orthopedic provided treatment for patients with polio for decades before the development of a vaccine led it to be renamed the Huntington Hospital and repurposed as a medical-surgical facility. In 1988, the hospital became a psychiatric facility and was renamed River Park. Today, the hospital provides inpatient and psychiatric residential mental health treatments for patients of all ages.

  • River Park Hospital today
  • Dr. Arthur Shade Jones at his house, circa 1930s
  • Huntington Orthopedic Hospital
  • Heliotherapy room at Morris Memorial - Huntington Orthopedic likely had similar facilities

In 1923, the Huntington Children's Hospital was founded by Dr. Arthur Shade Jones in a former house at 1049 5th Avenue. Born in 1885, Dr. Jones was a prominent orthopedic surgeon in the area who also served as the eastern head of the Kentucky Crippled Children Commission. In 1929, the facility was renamed the Huntington Orthopedic Hospital and relocated to a residence at 1330 3rd Avenue. In 1948, Jones again moved the hospital after buying one of the city's largest homes, located on the northwest corner of 6th Avenue and 13th Street. The four-story house was constructed in 1918 by C. Paul Nelson, and included a ballroom, a dumbwaiter connecting all four floors, and an indoor swimming pool.

Over the years, Huntington Orthopedic Hospital became known for its care and treatment of polio victims. Prior to the development of the polio vaccine, polio swept through the area every few years. Although most victims recovered quickly from the virus, some suffered temporary or permanent paralysis and even death, and many were disabled for life. In 1953, Dr. Jonas Salk and his associates developed a potentially safe, inactivated, injected polio vaccine that proved successful in trials. Between 1955 and 1957, incidence of polio in the United States fell by almost 90 percent. At the same time, Dr. Albert Sabin's live, attenuated vaccine was tested and replaced the Salk vaccine by 1962. The last case of polio in West Virginia was reported in 1968. 

In addition to Huntington Orthopedic Hospital, Morris Memorial Hospital in Milton provided specialized care to victims of polio in the area. Dr. Jones had a hand in founding and operating both hospitals. He had successfully treated the nephew of local farmer Walter T. Morris, who then deeded his farm to the Huntington Orthopedic Hospital in 1930. The Huntington Orthopedic Hospital formed a corporation and board of trustees under the name Morris Memorial Hospital for Crippled Children, and in 1936, the cornerstone was laid for the new hospital. Alongside Huntington Orthopedic, Morris Memorial Hospital provided local polio patients with care and treatment for many years. However, with the success of the polio vaccine, Morris Memorial began to treat fewer and fewer patients and ultimately shut its doors in April 1960.

Similarly, once polio was essentially eradicated, Huntington Orthopedic was discontinued as a polio treatment facility. Rather than closing, however, it was renamed the Huntington Hospital and repurposed as a medical-surgical facility. In 1988, the hospital was renamed River Park Hospital and converted to a psychiatric facility. Presently, it is a 165-bed facility with seven units. There is a children’s unit, adolescents’ unit, adult unit, geriatric unit, forensic unit, teen substance abuse unit, and a teenage male sex offender unit. River Park prides itself on its individual treatment approach for each patient, meaning that each patient's program is tailored to his or her needs. Multiple therapy sessions are provided daily by therapists and counselors, and nurses and mental health technicians are in each unit every day.

Altmeyer, Sarah. "RiverPark Hospital." The Parthenon(Huntington), March 2011.

Casto, James E.. Lost Huntington: Huntington Orthopedic Hospital, Huntington Herald-Dispatch. April 26th 2016. Accessed December 3rd 2019.

River Park Hospital. Accessed December 3rd 2019.

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