Barber  County,  Kansas

Achenbach  Hospital


Hardtner -- A $125,000 hospital soon will be under construction in this town of 341 people in southern Barber county.

The later Jacob Achenbach left the money for it.  The will provides, however, that the town must provide for the maintenance.  A financial campaign is now being conducted to provide for the operation.
(Hutchinson News ~ Sunday ~ January 14, 1940)


Hardtner --- Construction of a new wing to Achenbach Memorial hospital here will be undertaken soon and blue prints for the expansion have been prepared, Dr. H .L. Galloway, chief of staff, announced Sunday.

Full details of the expanded program will be announced shortly.

The hospital, built by funds provided by the will of Jacob Achenbach, observed its fifth anniversary Sunday.
(Hutchinson News Herald ~ Tuesday ~ October 1, 1946)


Hardtner --- Two new doctors, Dr. Lonis L. Schurter and his wife, Dr. Betty Sue Schurter, have been added to the Achenbach Memorial Hospital staff.

Dr. Betty Schurter received her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Bacteriology from the University of Alabama, then graduated from Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta.

Following this she completed a 12 months rotating internship at Crawford W. Long Hospital at Emory University.

Dr. Lonis L. Schurter, Burlington, Okla., received his pre-medical course and attended medical school at the University of Oklahoma.  He then completed 15 months internship at Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, Ore.

Following intenship he spent two years in the service doing general surgery in Tokyo, and women's surgery at Clark Field, Philippines.

After his tenur of military service Dr. Schurter took three additional years of post-graduate training in surgical specialties in hospitals affiliated with Emory University School of Medicine.

The addition of these two doctors give the Achenbach Memorial Hospital a staff of five headed by Dr. H. O. Galloway.  Other doctors are Dr. H. Yasuda, and Dr. Ralph L. Hopp.
(Hutchinson News Herald ~ August 11, 1952)


Hardtner --- Financially hard-pressed Achenbach Memorial Hospital here has appealed to its members again for assistance in meeting expenses.

Villians in the dilemna, according to hospital officials, are rising costs of medicine, equipment, wages --- plus failure to keep pace with the spiraling costs by increasing dues and income from other sources.  Collections for services also have lagged.

In November, each member of the hospital organization was asked to make a $100 donation to help raise $20,000, needed to satisfy creditors, until membership dues could be hiked sufficiently to meet expenses.

Dues are expected to be increased at the April meeting of the hospital members.

New manager of the hospital is J. Howard Smith, who replaced Julian Herndon.  Earl Pierce, hospital bookkeeper, has resigned.
(Hutchinson News ~ Saturday ~ January 19, 1963)


Hardtner --- The wind whistled an eerie, ghostly, song outside while Howard Smith, his voice self-consciously lowered in the deserted hospital, explained Hardtner's plight.

"What this community needs is two doctors with no money and plenty of pioneer spirit and dedication," said Smith, manager of the recently closed, 47-bed, Achenbach Memorial Hospital at Hardtner.

The closing announcement was posted in the hospital waiting room on Feb. 18.  First paragraph read:  "We regret to announce that Achenbach Memorial Hospital will suspend operations at 6 p.m., February 28, 1963."

Surprised patients were given 10 days notice and adequate facilities were found for them.  At least two children which were to be born at Hardtner will be born in another city.


"The people are just sick," Smith said.

Hardtner citizens are "just sick" over the closing of the huge, three-story hospital but most of them express the belief that it will open again very soon.

"That isn't so.  We've had feelers here but most of them are lukewarm," Smith said, sadly.

Final paragraph in the announcement read:  "Financial difficulties makes further operating under the present setup impractical . . ."

But, money isn't the problem, according to Smith.

"We need two doctors with some business sense.  This," he said, waving his hand, "is theirs for the asking."

"If we can get a commitment from two doctors who want to live here and prosper here and be a part of our community they could have this hospital in a minute," he added.


The hospital was founded in 1941 with a $125,000 grant from Jacob (Uncle Jake) Achenbach, a Barber County pioneer.  Achenbach's will asked a Catholic order in Wichita to be the hospital administrators.

"It wasn't practical for them to run it.  They were too small and this waws a large undertaking," Smith said.  A provision in the will stated that an association could be formed to run the hospital should the Catholic order turn the proposal down.

The hospital association was formed under a ruling by Judge Clark A. Wallace, who is now retired and living in Kingman.


The new hospital, staffed with three doctors, boomed.  In 1950 a new addition was called for and in only a few days money for the wing was raised.  The construction was paid for in cash.   At one time the hospital boasted a dentist and a pharmacy has been in since it was founded.

"We've been going down hill for the past eight years," Smith explained.  "In those eight years the original chief-of-staff doctor at the hospital spent less and less time in Hardtner and more time at his own clinic in Anthony, according to Smith.

New hospitals were built in Coldwater, Medicine Lodge, and Kiowa and the Alva, Okla. hospital was enlarged.

During this same period, patients at the Hardtner hospital "thought they were being neglected," Smith said.

Finally the staff was slimmed down to one doctor, Norman Marvin.  Approximately 35 employes, including nurses and a lab man, worked at the hospital.

"We couldn't interest doctors under the present setup.  They could make more money in the larger cities and we don't really blame them but this hospital could be a good one --- you can have a good hospital in the middle of the desert if you try," Smith said.

The employes were notified several weeks before the closing.  Smith saiad the nurses and the lab technician had very little trouble finding a place to go.  He explained that most of the other employes were local.


Several plans for the fate of the hospital have been checked on.  Smith said there is a possibility of bonds being raised.

To modernize the present facilities the strongest plan thus far has called for a nursing home on the top floor with the first floor being the clinic and the second floor the hospital.

We can't go ahead with any plans until we can get a commitment from some doctors," he said.

"Their overhead would be practically nil here and we would do anything on earth to get them," Smith added

In the meanwhile, the big building stands empty.  A maintenance man is packing supplies; beds, obviously ready for patients, are collecting dust; the nursery window silently beckons the passerby by the six bassinets are empty.

Hardtner has a new motel, a huge, modern swimming pool, a new Methodist church and a recent bond election raised approximately $125,000 for an addition to the school.

A. M. Webb, president of the Hardtner bank, said, "I don't think there's a thing here that two good doctors couldn't solve."

He said the closing of the hospital had been "a bad blow" and that it was bound to hurt the town in general.

"People would come right back of it opens ... we need two doctors that will roll up their sleeves and be a part of us, he said.

"If we could get a commitment from two doctors, which we realize is hard to do, we could work something out," said Bob Sterling, a cattleman and president of the Hardtner school board.


He explained that the original setup, which called for an association, bordered on socialized medicine according to the doctors who had come to look the situation over.  "They like it up to that time and then Wham," he said.

"But that situation has been remedied by the closing," Smith commented.

Now that the hospital has closed, the building and the grounds technically revert back to th Achenbach heirs:  Mrs. Lois Plat and Leonard Achenbach, both of Hardtner; Mrs. H. R. Haskard, Hutchinson and Forrest Ohlson, Wichita.

"Our grandfather left the money for the hospital.  He wanted it to be a going hospital --- we also want it to be," said Mrs. Platt, who is also president of the hospital association.


She said the heirs were in "complete agreement" about wanting the hospital to re-open.  "If it would be better to continue with the association or of it would be better for the heirs to lease it ... either way is fine with us," she added.

"It's a shame to see that wonderful facility going to waste, if we could only get a committee ..." said Smith, his voice trailing off.

"They aren't going to be easy to find." he added.
(Hutchinson News ~ March 10, 1963)


Hardtner --- Door of the Archenbach Memorial Hospital here will re-open July 1 after a four-month shutdown.

Howard Smith, administrator of the 47-bed hospital, said Thursday a three-man team of osteopaths will move into Hardtner to established a specialized practice in this south-central Kansas community.

"This will become a clinical center," he said.  "We expect a clinical operation, that will take referrals from other doctors."

The hospital closed Feb. 28, ten days after an announcement to that effect was posted on its bulltetin board.  Reason:  Rising costs of operations, and a clause in the will of its founder, pioneer Barber Countian Jacob (Uncle Jake) Achenbach, to the effect that there be no tax money involved in its operation.

The hospital was founded in 1941 with a $125,000 grant from Achenbach.

Smith said Thursday the Achenbach heirs, Mrs. Lois Platt and Leonard Achenbach of Hardtner, Flora Haskard of Hutchinson and Florrest Ohlson of Wichita, have underwritten the hospital's past indebtedness and have arranged for future operating funds.

Staffing the hospital will be Dr. Wilton Anderson of Greensburg and two Michigan osteopaths, Drs. Donald Stoops and Henry Tyson.  New equipment has been purchased for the x-ray department, which will be headed by Jack Price, now chief x-ray technician of the Lakeview General Hospital in Battle Creek, Mich.

Smith says he feels the four-month closing actually was beneficial.

"I think there's more enthusiasm now," he said.

"It threw a load on the other hospitals which they couldn't gracefully handle ... it helped show the need for hospital services here."

At present the Medicine Lodge hospital is planning expansion and patrons of the Kiowa District Hospital will vote July 1 on a bond issue of new construction there.
(Hutchinson News ~ June 14, 1963)


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