Emergency Hospital Design
The Emergency Hospital was designed
under the direction of Roswell Park, M.D., who believed that a properly
equipped emergency medical facility was essential to the welfare of
those working on the grounds and the millions of visitors expected during
the 7 months of the Exposition. He had it sited just inside the West
Amherst Gate so that patients could visit one of the local hospitals
for post-emergency care via the trolleys or ambulance. It opened May
1, 1901, replacing the temporary facility set up in the Service Building
during the previous 8 months to provide medical services to construction
workers on the grounds.
A T-shaped structure, its architecture was "old mission" style in keeping
with the Exposition theme. The front extended 90 feet, with the central
wing extending 38 feet back from the front entrance. The rear wing,
one story high, extended behind the central 2-story wing and was 56
feet long, 32 feet wide.
The main entrance in the center wing opened into a rotunda decorated
with tropical plants, pictures, and drapery. The main office was located
in the left corner of the rotunda under the staircase. There was located
all of the communication equipment that kept the hospital in touch with
Exposition staff and local authorities.
To the right of the rotunda was the western wing which contained two
male wards with 7 cots each, a bathroom, physicians' office, morgue,
linen chest. To the left of the rotunda was the eastern wing with a
women's ward of 12 cots, a bathroom, office for the superintendent of
nurses, physician's private office, linen chest.
The rear wing contained the operating room, sterilizing department,
and instrument cases. Nearby was the emergency bathroom and patients'
waiting room. Farther along the corridor was the kitchen, pantry, and
patient dining room. The central wing's second story housed 4 bedrooms
and a bathroom for the resident physician and attendants. There was
also an ambulance shed for the electric ambulance loaned by the New
York Electric Motor Vehicle Company.
To equip the hospital, Park received the loan of surgical equipment
from the Jeffrey Fell Company of Buffalo, which counted this as part
of their exhibit. The Wagner Company loaned x-ray equipment and other
firms loaned equipment, also as part of their Exposition exhibits.
Although there was early agreement that a child care facility (aka a
"creche") should be established as part of the Emergency Hospital, the
Exposition board did not act on it until late in the summer. It opened
in August in a tent outside the hospital. Unlike the hospital patients
who received medical services at no charge, the Creche charged between
$.25 and $.50 for child care (depending on the length of the child's
stay) and was self-supporting.
Nurses for the hospital were recruited for one-month tours of duty by
circulars sent out to hospitals in the northeast. They were paid only
an honorarium to cover travel and laundry; during their off-duty hours,
they were free to explore the Exposition. That seems to have been sufficient
inducement to supply the necessary professional services. The services
of physicians were secured locally. For additional information on staffing,
details about the Exposition sanitary responsibilities that were also
within the purview of the Hospital, see the lengthy but very interesting report of Dr. Park.
The hospital remained known only to those in need of its services until
the assassination of President William McKinley on September 6, 1901.
Because he was transported to the Emergency Hospital immediately after
the shooting and had his surgery there, the hospital became a tourist
destination until the Exposition closed on November 1.