Our History - Windham Hospital
By the turn of the century, hospitals had become an integral part of American community life and in1908, St. Joseph Hospital in Willimantic was opened by the Sisters of Charity of the St. Joseph parish. By July 1926, heavy utilization of the 40 bed hospital and the need for modernization was discussed by the Hospital Directors and the Trustees of the St. Joseph Catholic Congregation. However, the Sisters of Charity, based in the Netherlands, had decided to recall their staff from St. Joseph’s and there was concern that the necessary funding could not be raised from within the Congregation alone. As a result, St. Joseph’s asked that a new hospital be built as a community effort. On October 1, 1930 an incorporator’s meeting was held and it was decided that the new hospital would be a non-sectarian community hospital with a non-sectarian Board. To reflect this change they proposed the name Windham Community Memorial Hospital.
Windham area residents enthusiastically supported the new hospital building program raising $450,000 over a two month period ending December 31, 1930. This accomplishment is noteworthy given the fact that the Great Depression was underway; over 3,700 people pledged their financial support for the new hospital.
Construction of the new hospital began in 1931 and on April 12, 1932 the cornerstone of the building was laid. The formal dedication of Windham community Memorial Hospital took place in the main lobby on April 5, 1933. On that same day Windham began accepting maternity patients and at 6:00 p.m. the Accident Room, precursor to our Emergency Department, was opened. On April 25th the first birth occurred at the new hospital: Edna Gile and the next day, the eight patients remaining at St. Joseph Hospital were transferred by ambulance to Windham.
The foresight and enthusiasm of community planner created a health institution that was remarkable for its time, gaining national recognition. Windham Community Memorial Hospital was featured in an article in the November 1933 issue of Modern Hospital, a journal well-known in the health care field. The article was complimentary of the interior design and amenities, citing the many “modern innovations” of the new hospital.
The size and shape of the building has changed, and the services offered at Windham Hospital have kept pace with the needs of the community. Today we offer the latest medical technologies to 19 communities in eastern Connecticut. The one constant is the people that have devoted their lives to helping others. Our staff is among the most caring and compassionate and the personalized care that is offered at Windham Hospital is our hallmark looking back and into the future.