Bamberg County Hospital closes!
Written by Joyce M. Searson   

The Bamberg County Memorial Hospital has closed permanently. Monday, April 30, 2012, was the last day it was open for business…It closed at 8 am Monday and the facility reopened on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 as an Urgent Care facility, a program of SouthernCarolina Health System.

The Bamberg County Memorial Hospital has served its community and citizens well for almost 60 years.

History of the Bamberg County Memorial Hospital according to the Bamberg County History Book:

A county – wide referendum on June 8, 1948, resulted in 1489 votes for the building of the Bamberg County Hospital facility with 578 opposed votes. At the 1949 session of the General Assembly, Senator J. Carl Kearse and Representative Ralph Hutto enacted the necessary legislature creating the Bamberg County Memorial Hospital Board.

The following nine original board members were appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the delegation: E. Roy Cooner, N. P. Smoak, J. C. Horne, J. Z. Brooker, W. L. Brannon, Maxwell Kinsey, C.A. Gray, Clarence M. Brabham and Fred T. Hutto. The first administrator was Lewis E. Bates.

The five acre site of the hospital was given freely by Nelle M. Bamberg, although she never lived to see her dream come true-the construction of the hospital.

The plans for a 19,000 square foot building containing 32 beds and a nurses residence building were approved by the Board on January 9, 1950.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on November 14, 1950. The main building funds came from the county ‘kickback’ funds and federal Hill-Burton funds. The funds to build the nurses’ facility came from citizens’ contributions, a large contribution from Dr. Robert Black, and a federal grant. The total cost of the hospital and nurses’ facilities was $528,114 dollars.

The institution was named Bamberg County Memorial Hospital as a memorial to the brave Bamberg County men who gave their lives and their service to their country in the wars since the county was formed in 1897.

The first medical staff included Doctors: A. W. Lowman, Joseph D. Thomas, Robert Black, T. M. Stuckey, Henry J. Stuckey, Harry Hiers, S. G. Rankin, M.S. Fender, L.A. Hartzog, and Norris J. Knoy.

The hospital opened in September of 1952 with its first patient being J. Clyde Kearse, a veteran game warden of Bamberg; and the first baby born was a girl, belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Leon Coleman of Bamberg.

Yes... the citizens of Bamberg County owe their forefathers and all those involved in establishing the Bamberg County Memorial Hospital an enormous debt of gratitude for all their hard work and for going that extra mile to make such a dream come true.

Now it is time to say goodbye to a place that was dedicated to saving lives and nurturing the sick. A place where most of us were born and where some of the finest doctors and nurses have worked…and to say goodbye to all those in the medical field who have walked its halls helping to save lives and the hundreds of employees… Bamberg County has lost a part of its history and a valuable resource to its communities... The Bamberg County Memorial Hospital.

Saturday, April 28, 2012 was a sad day at the hospital for those who were still there. The mood was very quiet; almost as if you were at a funeral. The halls were empty and there were very few employees working. The reality of the inevitable closing of the hospital was visible.

All of the employees who were still there said the same thing, " We are sad, we were like one big happy family. We worked as a team...We love this place...it is like a second home to us...We are losing a friend...This will mean a great loss of jobs and a great loss of life."

Theresa Johnson, Director of Support Services, “Although our doors are closing, the love for the Bamberg community and our faithful patients will always be in our hearts.”

Yes, losing the hospital will have an enormous effect on the quality of life in Bamberg County and its healthcare. ..Things will never be the same...We are going to suffer a great loss....It was good to have a friend like Bamberg County Hospital nearby.

Goodbye Old Friend...You have served us well.