The history of Skiff (Part II)
It was a beautiful spring day in May 1921 when Mary Frances Skiff Memorial Hospital was dedicated. The hospital had already been hailed in a national health-care journal as “one of the finest and most modern in the country.” In keeping with this reputation, the hospital board made additional investments in the facility, including the purchase of an X-ray machine in early 1925, making Skiff one of the first small hospitals in Iowa to have this technology. All seemed well at the time, but a problem was brewing just beneath the surface.
The total cost to open the hospital had been $170,000 and Vernon Skiff had pledged $100,000 of this amount, with the remainder supported by pledges from local citizens. The city of Newton provided the land and agreed to support ongoing facility maintenance expenses via tax collections. While Mr. Skiff had immediately made good on his pledge, and some local residents had paid as well, a $40,000 debt remained unpaid due to the lack of follow-through by many others, likely due to the impacts of the Great Depression. Incredibly, the board members of the Newton Hospital Association carried responsibility for this debt personally while waiting for community members to honor their pledges. The future of the hospital hung in the balance for several years as creditors demanded repayment of the principal. In late 1926, F.L. Maytag came to the rescue and pledged $250,000 to build a YMCA in Newton in exchange for community members raising sufficient funds to pay off the remaining hospital debt.
The Chamber of Commerce recognized this as a prime opportunity to improve the community and kicked off a fund drive which collected more than $54,000 in just one week. The debt of the hospital was quickly repaid and the headline of the Newton Daily News on April 17, 1928 declared “Skiff Hospital is Out of Debt!” The debts of the Newton Hospital Association were retired and all assets of the hospital were transferred to the city hospital Board of Trustees in 1928. At this point the public-private partnership ended and the hospital became a solely municipal hospital supported by revenues gained from medical services provided to patients, ongoing gifts from individuals (including a $50,000 endowment from the Skiff family), and taxes collected by the city for the support of building maintenance (12 percent of the annual budget in 1928).
If you have any technical difficulties, either with your username and password or with the payment options, please contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org