October 21, 2011

Elbowoods Hospital Years – 1930 to 1953

Elbowoods Hospital Years – 1930 to 1953
Submitted by Marilyn Hudson

(Editors Note: The Elbowoods Memorial Health Center that opened this week was named in honor of the hospital that stood for many years in the now-flooded community of Elbowoods. The News requested Marilyn Hudson from the Three Affiliated Tribes Museum to provide a history and memories of that institution.)
Our US Government was pretty smart in the 1930’s. When it built the hospital in Elbowoods on the Fort Berthold Reservation, they built the doctor’s residence right next door, just a hop, skip and jump away. The doctors that I remember walking those few steps from their house to the hospital were Dr. Fred Hamernik, Dr. Roy Rogers, Dr. Edwin Shelby and Dr. Herbert Wilson. However in Dr. Wilson’s case, it was not a walk but a steady run at top speed, pretty much as he does it yet today.
The wise Government planners built the nurses’ quarters, a 4-bedroom house, just across the street from the hospital. The idea was that the single nurses would reside there and be available around the clock for nursing duties. As luck would have it, these pretty young nurses did not stay single very long. Some of the local boys must have kept a close eye on that house. Beatrice Giddings was one of the young nurses who came to Elbowoods. Before too long, she became Mrs. Duane Charging. Jennie Begay, a brave young nurse came all the way alone from Navajo Country in Arizona. It was not long before she became Mrs. Albert Whitman. Actually, Albert had somewhat of an advantage over the other guys because he was the ambulance driver for the hospital and had a legitimate reason to be around the nurses’ quarters. Besides that, he was a highly respected WWII veteran who had served in the jungles of Burma. My own mother, Dorothy Bartell, was in nurses training at St. Alexius when she married my father in 1928. These women became solid citizens of the reservation and used their nursing skills to raise large families some of whom were born in the hospital in Elbowoods.

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