The movement toward a “modern” hospital for the Rumford area began in June 1924. Previously, there had been “hospitals” in at least two private homes in town. By September 1924, a fundraising campaign was organized with a goal of raising $200,000 to build a hospital.

A Kick-off Dinner was held September 5. Fundraising committees who attended represented towns from Weld to Upton, Canton to Byron. At the first reporting meeting on September 9, the fundraisers were half way to goal. At the September 11 reporting meeting, the team was over the goal to $267,000 – $267,000 in less than a week in 1924! On the same newspaper page on which this was reported, ladies “heavy, fleeced union suits” were advertised for 98 cents and “children’s winter coats” for $2.98.

Ground was broken for Rumford Community Hospital in May 1925, and the hospital was dedicated on October 20, 1926. It officially opened on November 1. The first baby, a boy, was born at Rumford Community Hospital the next day.

During the 1930s and 40s, Rumford Community Hospital was a teaching hospital, with medical students from large Boston teaching hospitals serving their residencies in this rural hospital. A school of nursing was also part of the hospital and a nurses’ residence was built on the campus.

The 1926 physical plant served as the hospital until the 1960s when a two-floor inpatient wing was constructed atop ground floor radiology and surgical units. Again, in the 1970s, a wing was added to house such support services as Dietary, Pharmacy, Library and Human Resources, as well as a boiler room.

In 1987, Central Maine Healthcare assumed management of Rumford Community Hospital and in 1999 the hospital became a subsidiary of the CMHC system. The change to the name Rumford Hospital was made in concert with our fellow regional hospital, then known as Northern Cumberland Memorial Hospital, now Bridgton Hospital. Although Rumford Community Hospital’s name was not as cumbersome as Bridgton Hospital’s, it made sense to have the “sisters” bear similar names.

A building for a Rural Health Center was built in 1997 adjacent to the hospital. That practice is now a clinical department of the hospital. In 2001, a renovated nursing home in Dixfield became another site of the Rural Health Center. It, too, is a clinical department. What was Western Maine Internal Medicine is now River Valley Internal Medicine, another hospital department. The hospital also formed Rumford Surgical Associates as a clinical department.

In July 2002, Rumford Hospital became a Critical Access Hospital, thus guaranteeing reimbursement from the federal government closer to the actual cost of providing care for patients insured under the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

In 2004, the hospital began a strategically planned program of renovation and rejuvenation. First, many of the hospital infrastructure systems were replaced with state-of-the-art fire alarms, sprinklers, lighting, air conditioning, generators and ventilation.

In the next phase, the main entrance, the emergency department and day surgery were situated and resized to better serve patients. A handicap accessible main entrance now opens onto a spacious lobby on the main floor with patient registration and some outpatient services – phlebotomy is one – adjacent.

Emergency department rooms were expanded and made more private with a centrally located nursing station with centralized monitoring capability. As day surgery has become the norm, the space allotted to that service was doubled, so that patients can recover quietly and speak more privately with their doctors, nurses and loved ones.

With the opening of the new John H. Welsh Building in December 2008, the hospital’s current building program has closed its final phase, although there will be some renovations needed to transform the former Medical/Surgical floor for new uses. The building includes a first-floor consolidated patient unit, bringing medical/surgical, intensive care and birthing beds together in one area. On the ground floor, it contains a wide hallway that will be used to transport patients to and from the helipad, a new materials management area, a pharmacy and a large conference room.

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