This year the Hospital Silver Tea will be held on Thursday, May 17 from 2 - 4 pm in the Long Term Care dining room. The entire community is welcome to help the Hospital Guild celebrate 75 years of service to the Petersburg Medical Center. On May 12, 1938 the Hospital Guild held their first Hospital Tea Day. The Tea observes the birthday of Florence Nightingale and honors all hospital workers.
On February 12, 1937, eighteen Petersburg women met to form the Hospital Guild and the following by-laws were adopted: 1.The Petersburg Hospital Guild will meet at the hospital the second Friday of each month. 2. Members will take turns serving refreshments to consist of coffee and one other thing. 3. Those attending meetings will be asked to bring a quarter, the money to be used for the hospital in a manner to be decided upon later.
That was the start of an organization that has continued for 75 years to meet on the second Friday of the month, enjoy refreshments, and donate their money and service to the hospital. In the early years, members were busy making surgical dressings, repairing hospital articles, making baby gowns, and adding their quarters each month toward the purchase of extra items for the hospital. These days there is still mending and sewing to do for the hospital and Long Term Care, but surgical dressings no longer need to be made.
Over the years the Hospital Guild has had many money raising schemes. In 1939, the Guild sold Nenana Ice Pool tickets for twenty-five cents each. The plan was that if a person held the winning ticket, they would receive 10% of the winnings plus 30 days free hospitalization when needed. The remaining 90% would go towards the building fund for a new hospital. Unfortunately, there was no lucky winner in Petersburg that year. Another time Mrs. Leo Christianson read the future in coffee cups at 25 cents per cup. In 1941 an Amateur Program netted the Treasury $167.00 and a Flower sale brought in $97.33.
In March 1947 the hospital needed a new X-ray machine that would cost $7,000. Mrs. Elsie Clausen was appointed chairman of the committee. Between March and October the total amount collected by Mrs. Clausen and Mrs. Bea Stokke was $5,606.41. The balance was taken care of by the Town Council.
In September 1952, The Charity Box was opened to sell donated items for the benefit of the hospital. The original location was in a building owned by Mr. and Mrs. Martin Enge, and it stood where Chief John Lott Street is today. The rent was free, and all of the workers were volunteers. Opening day was such a great success that they nearly sold out and wondered if they would be able to open for a second day. But donated items continued to arrive, and by the end of December 1952 $2,000 had been turned over to the Hospital Building Fund.
After several years at that location, the City gave the use of an old Fire Hall to the Charity Box. That sturdy little building has been moved around town several times. Now it sits on First Street across from the hospital. The Charity Box is open on Mondays from 10 am to 4 pm from June till September.
Over the years the Guild has provided the hospital with lamps, beds, draperies, window blinds, a sterilizer, a respirator, and even an iron lung.
Recently the Guild has purchased a flat screen TV, DVD player and cabinet, a fish tank, chairs, tablecloths, and a curling iron for Long Term Care. A large hospital scale was purchased for the Emergency Room, and $4,000 was contributed to the Hospital Foundation.