In the summer of 1882 Mr. and Mrs. J. Lewis Crozer held a conference on the porch of the home of Mrs. E. M. Glass in Linwood. Three of their friends, Mrs. E. M. Buehler, Miss Rebecca Wuddell and Mrs. S. K. Ubil were present. The subject of the conference was the expressed desire of Mr. and Mrs. Crozer (J. Lewis) to use some of their money for the care of incurables inasmuch as nobody else had made any provision for them. This conference, it should be noted, was held only months after the Jackson explosion and during the period that the women of Chester were taking the first steps toward the building of a hospital in Chester. (February 17, 1882, Jackson Pyrotechnical Explosion – 8 Firemen were killed)
The planning went forward and was undoubtedly stimulated by the actual opening of Chester Hospital in 1893. Mr. Crozer set up a fund of $500,000 to be used for the erection of a Home for Incurables and a hospital to be built after the death of Mrs. Crozer. J. Lewis Crozer died in 1897. Mrs. Crozer then decided to activate the terms of the will prior to her own death and build the home and hospital as a memorial to her late husband.
The home building was erected on land east of the Crozer Seminary in 1898 and the hospital east of the home was built in 1902.
The stately J. Lewis Crozer Home for Incurables admitted its first patient on April 26, 1900. She was Miss Martha Magraw, age 63, from Media. She lived at the home until her death 13 years later at the age of 76. Men as well as women were admitted. Many of the patients were arthritics, a disease with which Mr. Crozer was particularly sympathetic as he had long been a sufferer. The J. Lewis Crozer Home for Incurables and Crozer Hospital continued to serve the public of the surrounding area of Upland for many years.
On October 1, 1949 a vigorous new Administrator, Retired Navy Captain Dr. John T. Bennett, was appointed. He served as Administrator until April 30, 1960. He felt it was time to enlarge the old Crozer Hospital and to modernize it. A public campaign to raise funds, just before Dr. Bennett’s arrival had produced $329,682 on a goal of $300,000.
The first new addition was a yellow brick wing which was started in 1949. Another section followed in 1954 and a third in 1957. These were connected by a tunnel to the old hospital and home buildings. A Hill-Burton Grant of $244,000 and a Ford Foundation Gift of $83,000 in 1957 helped to provide for the new construction. Crozer Hospital thus became a 269 bed hospital. The Sillet legacy also helped to provide the 1954 addition.
On Thursday June 10th, 1948, under the Chairmanship of Mrs. George Dempsey, a project known as the “June Fete” was held on the hospital grounds. For the next 20 years this popular summer social event increased its productivity of funds for the hospital. In one three year period, under the Chairmanship of the late Mrs. Joseph DiMedio, the June Fete provided $175,000 in furnishings for the new hospital wings.
In 1959 the Delaware County Court approved a simplification of the name so that “The J. Lewis Crozer Home for Incurables and Crozer Hospital” became officially known as “Crozer Hospital”.
In 1960 Administrator Mr. Elton W. Barclay came from the Administrator’s position at Stetson Hospital in Philadelphia to become Administrator at Crozer.
Crozer Hospital, without the drain of free care which staggered Chester Hospital, was not only solvent but was able to build a new 5 story Central Wing which was dedicated on November 10, 1963.
Much community discussion and many, many meetings of Boards and Committees gradually produced a climate in which the merger of Crozer and Chester Hospitals seemed to become the only logical long range solution. The Hospital Survey Committee of the Greater Philadelphia area had by now come into being and highly recommended the merger. On June 1, 1963 the Crozer Hospital Administrator, by agreement of the Boards of Directors of both hospitals, took over the management of Chester Hospital as well as Crozer Hospital. On November 29, 1963, the new legal entity, the Crozer-Chester Medical Center came into being. The combined board was made up of 15 men representing both units.
At this point the history of the Crozer-Chester Medical Center really begins. All assets of Chester Hospital and their corporate worth, which was considerable, were thrown into the new amalgamation. This included properties, the building funds already raised and existing endowments. Much of the personnel would also be absorbed. The combined strength soon demonstrated that the Chester area would be the beneficiary of medical and surgical services far better and more complete than either hospital could possibly have provided by itself. Good results were immediate and almost spectacular and the usual frictions incidental to all such mergers were less than might have been expected.
On September 1, 1964, a residual legacy in excess of $2,000,000 from the Gibson Estate, which originally was to have been divided between the two hospitals, now was made available to the Crozer-Chester Medical Center. Using $700,000 from the former Chester Hospital New Building Fund and a grant from Hill-Burton, work was begun early in 1965 on a four story Southwest Wing to adjoin the Central Wing dedicated late in 1963. This new wing would house food services and laboratory facilities on the basement level, administrative offices on the first floor, 27 semi-private patients’ rooms on the second floor, another 27 similar rooms on the third floor and a suite of 11 operating rooms, 7 major and 4 minor, as well a recovery room on the fourth floor. The total cost would approximate $3,500,000. This wing was dedicated on February 13, 1966.
On June 11, 1966, with the assistance of a $50,000 memorial contribution, a one story wing to house a Department of Physical Rehabilitation was opened for both inpatient and outpatient care. In 1967, a portion of this section was devoted to Inhalation Therapy and on November 1, 1967, a school for Inhalation Therapists was established. This school made the third such education enterprise on a technician level, since the Schools for Medical Technology (lab) and Radiological Technology (X-Ray) had been functioning in both hospitals for several years.
In 1967, a campaign for the erection of another new wing produced a little more than $2,000,000 and work on this wing was started in 1968. On October 1, 1968, James H. Loucks, M.D. became the Administrator.