Niagara Gazette

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December 3, 2012

HIGGS: The rise of Auxiliary of NFMMC

Niagara Gazette — Another organization that deserves some special attention and some “holiday” and “everyday” cheers is the Auxiliary of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. As a member for a few years, I regularly receive an envelope in the mail bursting with news and items about coming events that are fun things to do which also help the medical center. More on that as we learn the history of an organization that has been with us for a long time and shows no signs of leaving. Diane Glynn, an active member, compiled a short history of the group in 2005 and she kindly shared her research of the auxiliary with me for this article.

Memorial itself began in 1895 as a small emergency hospital following the merging of several villages and the incorporation of the City of Niagara Falls on March 17, 1892. Shortly after the city was born, several incidents of delay in medical attention following serious injury to its citizens, it became urgent to organize an emergency hospital.

A permanent hospital building was promised by Elizabeth Townsend and her sisters Mrs. Wheeler and Mrs. Pettibone as a memorial to their mother, Mrs. Jane Townsend. Land on what was then known as 11th Street near Pine Avenue (now Memorial Parkway) was donated by the heirs of Albert H. Porter and the Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital was incorporated. It began accepting patients by 1897, in the Townsend Building which included four wards, with four beds each and a surgery.

The early years were a continuous struggle and the hospital fell into hard times trying to meet its obligations and provide some care for the needy as well as the paying patient. The auxiliary was founded in 1905 to help support this fledging hospital, and was known at the time as the Women’s Auxiliary. Today everybody is welcome to join. In the early days members served as volunteers to keep costs down, formed sewing circles and made curtains and mended sheets and towels. They supervised the kitchen and laundry, acted as purchasing agents buying medical and surgical supplies and helped the hospital in other material ways.

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