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Northwest Hospital actually began with a $181.00 donation from the Associated Clubs of the North End.
It was to this group that Dr. Reuben Nelson turned for help in 1948. He asked them to recommend several "good, solid enterprising members from several clubs to form the nucleus of a board." This nucleus consisted of attorney Ray Royal, later to become Judge Royal; Clarence Massart, later a city councilman; attorney Cal McCune; Carl O'Beirn, real estate developer and founder of the City of Lynnwood; Walter M. Bosworth, Jr.; and Jenny Barnes and Marie T. Root, also prominent in real estate.
With Dr. Nelson as chairman and Ms. Barnes as secretary, these few organized as Community Memorial Hospital and incorporated on January 13, 1949.
The association's goals were admirable:
To build, erect, maintain, equip, manage and operate a non-profit Standardized Class "A" general hospital to be situated in King County north of the Lake Washington ship canal, and to furnish medical and surgical attendance therein in any form in the care of the sick, afflicted, infirm or injured persons; and to generally do anything and everything necessary, expedient or incidental to the operation of a general hospital in all its phases.
The purpose of the organization of this corporation is for the care of the sick of the community and not for profit, and any income derived there from shall not be paid out as dividends to any person or corporation but shall be used solely for the purpose of providing adequate hospital facilities...
This original purpose is still followed today.
Two very important things happened during the association's inaugural year: Lindsay M. Gould, M.D., joined the board, and the association bought 35 acres on which to build their hospital.
Dr. Gould was first invited to a board meeting in May of 1949 and was elected to the board in September. The son of Presbyterian missionaries working in India, he and his siblings were sent back to the United States to attend school when he was 11 years old. His early life experiences made him resourceful and quite persistent: when he got
no response to the letters he'd sent to the physician with whom he wanted to study, Charles Percy of Chicago, he took what little money he had, donned his only suit, and went by train to see him. Dr. Percy hired him.
Dr. Gould was equally persistent on behalf of Community Memorial. He was a tireless worker, attending meeting after meeting, tending the hospital's site during the 10 years it sat empty, and making untold personal calls on fellow physicians to raise money.
Raising money - or the slightest interest in the hospital, for that matter - was an almost impossible task for the first six months of 1949, however, and the project foundered on Seattle's apathy. Dr. Nelson recalled that " ... we met frequently in Edmund Meany Hotel, weekly for months, racking our brains as to a course of action and attempting to interest financial leaders in the program. No prominent men in Seattle showed the slightest interest. With one voice they seemed to say, let them build their own hospital."
Finally, board member Carl O'Beirn suggested that the community needed something tangible to rally around. If the association bought some land, people would see that they were serious about this hospital idea. They would be able to look at a real place, the "future home of Community Memorial Hospital."
The board agreed, and Mr. O'Beirn quickly secured an option on more than 30 acres of level land in the heart of the North End, midway between Lake Washington and Puget Sound, just to the west of the proposed new interstate highway. It was an ideal location for a hospital — on high ground, quiet, full of trees and clean air —and available for the modest sum of $33,000, thanks to the altruistic impulses of the owner, Budget Homes, who would sell it to the association at cost.
There was a condition, however. The land had to be paid for in cash in 90 days.
The board agreed. There was only one problem. The association had no money.
And so the first major fund-raising drive began. Board members scoured Seattle, looking for 30 or so people who would each give $1000 — before the 90-day option expired.
They almost made it, too. Twenty-five physicians and three laymen contributed $1000 each, but that left the association a few thousand dollars short of the required $33,000.
There is something about Northwest Hospital, though, that was meant to be: again and again, the board would find whomever or whatever it needed just in the nick of time. This time it was Dr. Nelson's banker, who agreed to honor the physician's personal check to cover any shortfall of funds for the property purchase.
Thus on the last day of the option, Budget Homes was paid in full and by September 28, 1949, the Community Memorial Hospital Association was the proud owner of 35 acres of prime real estate — and promissory notes totaling $33,000 to the original contributors.
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