Remembering Bradley Hospital’s early days: hospital artifacts donated to historical society

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The Community Committee to Save Bradley Hospital donated a number of historical artifacts to the Historical Society during a presentation at the police station meeting room on Sunday, Nov. 6. Visitors were shown a 10-minute promotional film from 1937, a 50th anniversary quilt, and photos of the addition. Above, Marge Fuhrman shares talks about the making of the anniversary quilt. (Photo by Airen Miller)

By JEN CARDINES

STAFF WRITER

The Community Committee to Save Bradley Hospital (CCSB) met on Sunday Nov. 6 to present a history of the facility and provide updates on the anticipated restoration. The committee presented the Historical Society with these items that were saved from Bradley when Hartford Health Care (HHC) took over.

As the hospital changed and items were in danger of being thrown away, Bradley staff members took them for safe keeping. One of the items was a quilt that had been made for the hospital’s 50th anniversary. The quilt was on display at the meeting.

Marge Fuhrman who sewed all of the patches together was there to talk about the different departments’ contributions to it. Fuhrman is one of many retired Bradley nurses that sits on the committee.

The society also received original black and white photographs and a copy of the short film made during the construction and dedication of the building.

Bradley Hospital opened in 1938 following the orders that Southington resident Julia Bradley left in her will. When she died, she left money to open a medical facility in town that had to be named after her. In 2011, HHC took over the facility as one of The Hospital of Central Connecticut (HOCC) locations, but the building still reads “Bradley Memorial Campus.”

Legally, the building has to include Bradley’s name on it because it is documented in the will.

Toni Height was just out of high school when Bradley was dedicated on July 9, 1938. She was at the ceremony 76 years ago, and still attends CCSB meetings to date. “That hospital is special to me,” she said. “My mother was the first receptionist there and my children were all born there.”

In recent years, CCSB has been advocating for the local hospital amidst uncertainty in the community. A new HHC medical center is currently under development on Queen Street,, and that caused uncertainty for many Southington residents about the future of Bradley. In addition, a renovation plan for the local hospital has stalled.

CCSB spokeswoman Bonnie Sica said the $6 million renovation was put on hold when the State of Connecticut’s budget issue cut over $50 million in healthcare spending. Sica said that the only reason for the continued work on Queen Street is because construction was already under contract.

“We want Bradley to thrive,” said Sica. “We’re not going to quit. Their strategy was to come at us, and then they pretended to work with us. Now it’s silence.”

During the presentation, CCSB spokespersons spoke about the status of their advocacy campaign. For now, Bradley’s future appears to be safe. But after a long struggle with town and state officials and the HHC corporation, the CCSB said they won’t throw in the towel.

“Through the silence has become the rumors and the whispers,” Sica told the room. She explained that the emergency room is never moving to Queen Street. “Dave Casle, who owns Casle Corporation, owns that building and said he was never told an ER was going there.”

Sica said Casle put it in writing, and it was sent to the town so that part of the planning and zoning stipulations say an ER won’t be built there.

“At this time, the urgent care isn’t going in on Queen Street. That has been killed because we were firm with Hartford Healthcare,” Sica added. Rosemary Champagne, Sica’s co-chair, acts as the liaison between HHC officials and the committee. They invited HHC representatives to attend the meeting and discuss the future of the hospital, but they declined the invitation.

Photos by Airen Miller

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