An act of gratitude ...
McCready Memorial Hospital can trace its roots as a health-care provider to the early 20th century. Its founding is a bittersweet story of gratitude that emerged from unfathomable tragedy.
Sept. 13, 1919: Edward W. McCready, who lived in Chicago where he worked in his family's cork business, was visiting relatives in his native Crisfield. Suzanne, his 8-year-old daughter, accompanied him.
The start of the new school year beckoned. The McCreadys and the young girl's nurse, Henrietta Steinbach, embarked on the long drive back home in a Pathfinder sedan. Just before 11 o'clock that fateful Saturday morning, their vehicle collided with a train near Westover.
Both adults died at the scene. Rescuers tried valiantly to rush Suzanne back to the General and Marine Hospital in downtown Crisfield for treatment, but the child succumbed to her injuries en route.
As was the custom of the day, head nurse Florence Webb Smith arranged for the bodies to lie in repose at the hospital awaiting the arrival of Caroline Pitkin McCready.
When the heart-broken mother and wife reached Crisfield, she asked: "How much?"
Smith reportedly replied, "You have no bill from us. We are very sorry we could not have done more for you."
Mrs. McCready insisted. "You and the people of Crisfield will be paid."§
Edward W. McCready Memorial Hospital - a grieving widow's $200,000 gift to Crisfield - was dedicated May 6, 1923. Hundreds of people turned out that Sunday - which would have been Edward McCready's 63rd birthday - to hear speeches and watch civic leader unveil brass plaques commemorating the three who died four years earlier.
The nearly three-dozen beds made McCready Memorial among Delmarva's largest hospitals at the time.
Built on a small peninsula that was a McCready family homestead known as "Cork Point" and flanked by Daugherty's Creek Canal and "Hospital Cove," the hospital serves the hard-working people of Crisfield and their Somerset County neighbors.
In that era, McCready Memorial initially trained nurses, some of whom lived on the upper floor of the original building. The nursing school closed in 1929.
Caroline Pitkin McCready's generosity set a high standard for a community that continues to support the hospital and its good works.
McCready Memorial underwent changes and improvements just as peers did. A small addition was added to the original structure in 1961.
By the mid-60s, McCready's administration and governing board saw a need to provide skilled-nursing care for the community's elderly. A 69-bed nursing home, dedicated in memory of Alice Byrd Tawes, the beloved mother of late Maryland Gov. J. Millard Tawes, opened in 1968. It put McCready Memorial in rare company: only a handful of nursing homes in the region are affiliated directly with a hospital.
In the next decade, it became apparent the original hospital had outlived its usefulness and a $3.9 million replacement was built. It opened in 1980 and connects the nursing home to the 1920s-era building now used primarily for administrative offices.
Among McCready Memorial's features:
- an emergency room accessible by land, air and water
- a surgical center
- a 20-bed medical-surgical in-patient unit
- an imaging department and laboratory
In the early 21st century, McCready's leaders decided the nursing home should be replaced.
A four-story building - the Tawes Nursing & Rehabilitation Center - opened in 2010. The $12½ -million structure is home to a 76 bed, skilled-nursing residents. It also features 30 assisted-living apartments on the top floor - an expansion of health-care services McCready offers.
The hospital, the Tawes' nursing and rehabilitation center, an outpatient clinic and adjoining physicians' offices (located in a wing of the original hospital), are known collectively today as the McCready Foundation.