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UNITED STATES SENATE,
July 17, 1941. Hon. Prentiss M. BROWN, Chairman, Senate Committee on Claims,
United States Senate, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR SENATOR BROWN: In connection with my bill, S. 1012, for the relief of C. Y. Webb, I am enclosing herewith certain papers, as follows:
(1) Affidavit of M. O. Lindner, of Clarkdale, Ariz. (2) Affidavit of Roland Hampton, of Clarkdale, Ariz. (3) Copy of the record of the United Verde Hospital of Jerome, Ariz., with reference to Miss Florine Webb.
(4) Statement of Dr. H. T. Southworth, attending physician attached to the United Verde Hospital at Jerome, Ariz., with reference to Florine Webb.
(5) Letter dated February 11, 1941, from Sam J. Head, county attorney at Prescott, Ariz.
(6) Certified copy of the inquest held upon the bodies of Naomi Webb and George B. Kennerly,
In view of the adverse recommendation of the Secretary of War in his letter dated May 14, it would appear to me that your committee would be justified in recommending against any payment to C. Y. Webb growing out of his claim for damages resulting from the death of his daughter, Florine Webb. However, Mr. Webb's claim for damages growing out of the death of his daughter, Naomi, seems considerably more meritorious, and I, therefore, shall appreciate your referring my bill, together with the attached papers, to a subcommittee so that a full investigation and report can be made. With kindest personal regards, I am, Yours very sincerely,
CLARFDALE, ARIZ., June 7, 1941. To Whom This May Come:
In reference to an automobile accident that occurred December 31, 1933, on Highway 79 between Cottonwood, Ariz., and a certain bridge about 4 miles south of Cottonwood, which was a collision between two Civilian Conservation Corps trucks driven by employees of said Civilian Conservation Corps.
Three of the passengers in one of these trucks were as follows: Florene Webb, Naomi Webb, and Frances Webb, all daughters of Mr. and Mrs. C. Y. Webb, of Clarkdale, Ariz.
Naomi Webb was killed instantly. "Florene Webb, when I saw her about 2 hours after the accident, was suffering from extreme shock and complained of a severe headache. She was placed in bed and kept there. The next day she was suffering from a severe cold which continued to become worse until on the second day (January 2, 1934) her father asked me if I would take her to the United Verde Hospital in Jerome, Ariz. This I did, and when I talked to Dr. A. C. Carlson, chief surgeon, later that evening he told me she had double pneumonia. She remained in the hospital for some time, and from that time until her death on July 3, 1935, she was in very poor health.
It is my opinion as a layman that the shock and exposure she suffered in the accident and immediately thereafter was a contributing factor in hastening her death.
ROLAND HAMPTON. Subscribed and duly sworn before me according to law by the above-named person this 7th day of June 1941, at city of Clarkdale, county of Yavapai, and State of Arizona. (SEAL)
D. S. HIBBEN, Notary Public. My commission expires September 15, 1941.
SAUNDERS MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
FEBRUARY 13, 1945.—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House and
ordered to be printed
Mr. McGEHEE, from the Committee on Claims, submitted the
[To accompany H. R. 1793]
The Committee on Claims, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 1793) for the relief of Saunders Memorial Hospital, having considered the same, report favorably thereon with amendments and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.
The amendments are as follows:
Page 2, line 1, strike out "States” insert in lieu thereof "Army officials”.
Page 2, line 1, after the word “contract” strike out “with the United States Army”.
A similar bill was favorably reported by this committee, passed the House and Senate, and was signed by the President in the Seventyeighth Congress, second session, and is Private Law 588. However, due to the language of the bill which became law it is necessary that new legislation be enacted to comply with the purpose of the bill.
The facts will be found fully set forth in House Report No. 1793, Seventy-eighth Congress, which is appended hereto and made a part of this report.
The purpose of the proposed legislation is to confer jurisdiction upon the United States District Court for the Eastern District of South Carolina to hear, determine, and render judgment upon the claim of the board of trustees of the Saunders Memorial Hospital, Florence, S. C., against the United States for damages arising from the failure of the Army officials to carry out a contract, November 16, 1942, to lease or purchase such hospital for the use of the Army.
(H. Rept. No. 1793, 78th Cong., 2d sess.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
This Congress passed a bill, H. R. 1737, appropriating the sum of $37,550 to the Saunders Memorial Hospital, of Florence, s. c., which was vetoed by the President. However, your committee feel that had all the facts been presented to the President, it would not have received his disapproval. It is also the opinion of your committee that these claimants are at least entitled to their day in court.
It is, therefore, recommended that H. R. 5167 be given favorable consideration and jurisdiction be conferred upon the United States District Court for the Eastern District of South Carolina to hear, determine, and render judgment on this claim.
Appended hereto is House Report No. 793, Seventy-eighth Congress, first session, which is made a part of this report, and same set of facts as reported on H. R. 1737.
(H. Rept. No. 793, 78th Cong., 1st sess.) It appears that during the month of June 1942 a survey was made of the Saunders Memorial Hospital at Florence, S. C., by a major and a captain of the Surgeon General's office, United States Army, which report was placed on file as a record of the findings made by the two medical officers and showed a bed capacity of 85. However, later this base was made a permanent one. In view of the surveys which had already been made the hospital was offered to the United States Army as a base hospital for the air base at Florence, Dr. Smyser coming personally to Washington and consulting a representative of the Surgeon General's office, who immediately arranged for an inspector, Lieutenant Colonel Gamble, to visit Florence for a personal investigation.
On the colonel's arrival he asked Dr. Smyser whether he would rent or sell the hospital. He was advised that it could be rented. Colonel Gamble approved the hospital and his recommendations were accepted by the Surgeon General's Office. Dr. Smyser received official notification through Congressman McMillan to that effect, stating that it would require several weeks for the Land Division of the War Department to clear same. Upon receipt of this information Dr. Smyser came to Washington in order to expedite the closing of the contract. While in Washington, General Grant, Chief Air Corps Surgeon, and Lieutenant Colonel Gamble, who had inspected the hospital, requested that Dr. Smyser remain in Washington until the Land Division had completed their papers.
After remaining 4 days he was called by Captain Wolfe of the Land Division to agree upon the rental figure and to sign an optional lease. This optional lease was signed by Dr. Smyser, providing for an annual rental of $10,000 a year. This included not only the hospital but in addition its full equipment, during the emergency and 6 months thereafter, with the understanding that on 10 days' notice the Army was to have possession. On Dr. Smyser's return to Florence with the above-mentioned lease it necessitated his making arrangements for the discontinuance of his training school for nurses and the placing of these 25 young ladies in other schools. It also necessitated his not admitting patients for major surgery or long-protracted illness, and no admissions to the hospital for over 10 days' duration.
After his return to Florence there were architects and engineers who visited the hospital daily for several days, making inspections and calculations as to the necessary alterations to comply with the requirements of an Army base hospital. The base surgeon at the Florence Air Base visited the hospital and hired the laundry personnel, the chief cook, and attempted to employ the bookkeeper and Dr. Smyser's secretary. Following the foregoing events there was an inspection trip arranged for Senators Ellison D. Smith and Burnet Maybank of South Carolina, and Congressman McMillan (in whose district the air base is located), outstanding professional and businessmen in the community. On this inspection Colonel Griffin, district engineer for North and South Carolina in charge of building operations, conducted the tour and on making the rounds Colonel Griffin pointed out where the different administrative barracks, warehouses, etc., were to be located, showing the site for the contemplated erection of a temporary wooden base hospital, but made the statement that orders had been received not to proceed with the erection of this hospital because the War Department was going to take over one of the hospitals in Florence.
After this statement was made by Colonel Griffin and the fact that an optional lease had been signed by Dr. Smyser and that an Army representative had come in and hired some of his personnel, it became generally known that the Saunders Memorial Hospital had been taken over by the United States Army, which resulted in the loss to the institution of many of its potential patients and the seeking of other positions by its hospital personnel (superintendent of nurses, night supervisor, hall nurses, etc.) which meant that the hospital operated, awaiting notification of possession by the Army Air Corps, at a serious deficit to the hospital and with considerable personal loss to Dr. Smyser.
The first week in December 1942 Dr. Smyser again visited Washington, because of the imminent danger of continued serious loss to both the institution and himself because of not having received any definite commitment. He interviewed at that time Colonel O'Brien of the Engineer Department, who asked the doctor if he would be interested in selling instead of renting. Dr. Smyser, not being authorized to commit himself as to sale, advised Colonel O'Brien that he would return to Florence, contact his board of trustees, and would wire him immediately upon their decision. The colonel requested that Dr. Smyser not wire but phone as they wanted an immediate answer. The following evening Dr. Smyser phoned Colonel O'Brien, after calling his trustees' meeting, advising that the hospital could be bought and that the book valuation was $242,000. The doctor requested that the Government make its price and was assured by Colonel O'Brien that he would call him the next day., Dr. Smyser never heard from the colonel, and on December 20 the hospital, still sustaining the great loss, and desiring some definite commitment, called Congressman McMillan requesting that he obtain information as to the cause of the delay. Colonel O'Brien advised that the delay had been caused by finding it necessary to make another estimate on repairs and also stated that in his opinion the Army would buy the hospital, rather than lease the same, and that he would advise both Dr. Smyser and Congressman McMillan the next day. No information had been received by either the Congressman or the doctor until January 5, when Dr. Smyser requested Congressman McMillan to get final and definite information as to what disposition was going to be made of the hospital. Then, on January 6, Dr. Smyser received a telegram from Congressman McMillan which stated: “War Department just advised Surgeon General refused to accept your hospital on grounds that it would be necessary to have hospital at Florence with twice the capacity of the Saunders Memorial.” Which statement was erroneous. The fact is that the air base is constructing a temporary wooden hospital, the original contract for which calls for 85 beds at a cost of $196,000. This does not include furniture or fixtures or any equipment, while the Saunders Memorial Hospital has $35,000 worth of equipment, furniture, and fixtures. It was also learned by Dr. Smyser from the Engineer Department that the estimated cost for alterations to the Saunders Memorial Hospital would amount to $95,000. It was also learned, and that statement is in writing, signed by Thomas M. Robbins, major general, Assistant Chief of Engineers, that the estimated cost of taking over the Saunders Memorial Hospital would be three times as much per bed as to construct, on the basis of purchase of the hospital, or approximately 38 percent more per bed on the basis of a 5-year lease of the hospital at $10,000 a year. Taking General Robbins' own figures, and conceding (though not admitting the correctness thereof) that it would take $95,000 for alterations plus $10,000 a year rental with equipment for 5 years, this makes only a total of $145,000 against $196,000 for constructing a wooden building with no fixtures and furniture. It is difficult to understand how they arrived at such a conclusion.
Next, considering the purchase of the hospital, in which it is stated it will take three times as much per bed than to build a temporary wooden structure with no furniture or medical and surgical equipment and furniture, and considering $196,000 as the cost for constructing a temporary wooden building with at least $65,000 to $70,000 for medical and surgical equipment and furniture, and considering the fact that the Saunders Memorial Hospital has $35,000 of equipment and furnishings already installed, it appears obvious that the Government will have invested in a temporary building a much larger sum than would have been necessary to acquire a permanent structure fully equipped, which not only during the emergency, but for many years to come, could have been used by the Gove ernment for a permanent base hospital.
Your committee is firmly convinced that Dr. Smyser was justified in believing, when the words and actions of responsible Government officials, that the Saunders Memorial Hospital was about to be taken over for Army use either by purchase or rental. According to Dr. Smyser's testimony, Major Gammill, who conducted the survey for the Sanitary Corps, said he was sold on the idea of taking over the hospital; and Brigadier General Grant, Chief Surgeon of the Army Air Forces, said they wanted to take it over immediately; Captain Wolfe, of the Real Estate Branch, told Dr. Smyser he would be glad to see him in Washington to close the negotiations; Colonei Griffith, the district engineer, told citizens of Florence that he had received orders from Washington not to proceed with construction of the cantonment-type hospital, since the War Department had taken over one of the hospitals in Florence; Colonel O'Brien of the Real Estate Branch, told Representative McMillan that it looked as if the Government was going to take over Dr. Smyser's hospital.
Three separate and distinct Government agencies, the district engineer, the Chief of the Real Estate Branch, Corps of Engineers, and the Chief Surgeon.