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Army Air Forces, conducted independent surveys and negotiations with no evident attempt at correlation, with resultant disastrous consequences to the owner of the Saunders Memorial Hospital who was kept in a state of uncertainty for a period of approximately 6 months.
He lost the services of, and income from, about 30 student nurses, and was forced to replace them with graduate nurses at $85 to $90 a month; he had to hire a new superintendent at a higher salary; his income and that of the institution were greatly depleted because of impending acquisition of the plant by the War Department; finally, being unable to meet either principal or interest requirements on a $60,000 mortgage, he lost the property.
It has been established beyond reasonable doubt that representatives of the local Air Forces actually hired the kitchen help and assured other personnel of employment-an implication that Army acquisition of the hospital was a foregone conclusion.
Certain it is, that on October 23, 1942, the Surgeon General of the United States Army concurred in recommendations to acquire the Saunders Memorial Hospital, but apparently the Air Surgeon was not advised of subsequent recommended changes which increased the cost of acquisition and conversion; also, construction of a cantonment-type hospital was authorized without consulting the Air Surgeon.
In a memorandum dated February 6, 1943, prepared for the Chief of Air Staff and signed by Brig. Gen. David N. W. Grant, Army of the United States, Air Surgeon, occurs this statement:
“There are still no proper hospital facilities at Florence Army Air Base, and there will be none until such time as hospital under construction is ready for use. It is believed that an unnecessary delay of 3 months has resulted.”
The War Department in a communication dated October 23, 1942, to the headquarters, Army Air Forces, Washington, D. C., states:
“The recommendation to acquire the Saunders Memorial Hospital, Florence, 8. C., with all equipment and with alterations and additional construction as enumerated in enclosed exhibit F, for conversion to Army hospital purposes, basic communication, for the Army Air Base, Troop Carrier Command, Florence, S. C., in lieu of constructing the 85-bed cantonment-type hospital recommended August 26, 1942, is concurred in."
Another communication from the War Department, headquarters, Army Air Forces, Washington, D. C., dated November 1, 1942, to the Chief of Engineers, Construction Division, Real Estate Branch, stating:
“It is requested that necessary action be taken to acquire the Saunders Memorial Hospital, Florence, S. C., with all equipment, for use as a station hospital for the Army Air Base at Florence, S. C.”
There was a special committee appointed by the chairman, Hon. Andrew J. May, of the Military Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, to make a thorough investigation of this claim. The report of their findings is made a part of this report. The attention of the House is called to the testimony of Col. John L. Person, Office of the Chief of Engineers, United States Army, before this committee. The report of the War Department is not in accord with the testimony of Colonel Person at this hearing.
Therefore, your committee recommend favorable consideration to the proposed legislation. Appended hereto is the report of the War Department, together with other pertinent evidence.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE COMMITTEE ON MILITARY AFFAIRS, INVESTIGATING RELATIVE SAUNDERS MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
AT FLORENCE, S. C.,
Washington, D. C., Wednesday, June 16, 1943. The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:30 a. m., in room 1310, New House Office Building, Representative Carl T. Durham (chairman) presiding.
Present: Representatives Durham (chairman) and Sikes.
Also present: Mr. H. Ralph Burton, general counsel, Military Affairs Committee.
Mr. DURHAM. This is a continuation of the hearing on the Saunders Memorial Hospital at Florence, S. C.
Colonel Person, will you tell us what you know about this hospital case down there; or do you want to ask him questions, Mr. Burton?
Mr. BURTON. I had better direct the questions, Mr. Chairman, if that is satisfactory.
Mr. DURHAM. All right.
TESTIMONY OF COL. John L. Person, OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF ENGINEERS,
UNITED STATES ARMY Mr. BU Rron. You are Col. John L. Person of the Engineer Corps? Colonel PERSON. That is right. Mr. BU RTON. Do you have figures which would show exactly what the cost of rehabilitation of the Saunders Memorial Hospital would have been had it been either rented or purchased?
Colonel PERSON. Yes, sir; I have an estimate from our district engineer in Charles ton, who reported that the estimated cost of rehabilitating the hospital, which he pointed out would not provide the required facilities under the firepreven, ion requirements, but that to do what work could be done to rehabilitate it would total approximately $92,000 for the construction work, which would provide a 60-bed hospital.
The gross appraisal made of the property by our Real Estate Branch indicated the estimated value of the property on a purchase basis to be $245,000, which would have made a total cost of $337,000 to provide a 60-bed hospital, or a unit cost per bed of, roughly $5,500 or $5,600.
Now assuming a 5-year lease of the property, at an annual rental of $10,000, which was based on discussion by our Real Estate Branch with Dr. Smyser, who represented the hospital, the total estimate to provide 60 beds became $142,000, based on a 5-year lease, 'or a cost of approximately $2,300 per bed.
However, I might say here that if this discussion of why we didn't take the hospital is predicated purely on cost, then we are missing the main point. The main reason that we recommended against the acquisition of the property for conversion to a hospital was the fact that it does not meet fire-prevention requirements.
So that even though the cost were less than building a new hospital, our recommendation would still have been adverse.
Mr. Burton. You have given the appraisement by your Real Estate Division? Colonel PERSON. That is correct. Mii Burton. Did you ever ask Dr. Smyser how much he would take for the Colonel Person. Not to my knowledge. I asked him how much he would take on a lease basis. I don't know if they asked him how much he would take
purchase. That is out of my sphere of activity. Mr. Burton. You also speak of 60 beds, and if you recall, Dr. Smyser testified that they could put as many as 120 beds in by taking down partitions. Colonel PERSON. That may be true. However, we had a study made of the
, and on with Arm regulations, it is a 60-bed hospital. "The study indicated that the total available floor space in the main hespital building and in the colored ward kas 30,318 square feet, that is inside measurement, divided into
Square feet 5, 351
717 Clinic and operation..
2, 863 Kitchen, mess, and refrigeration.
3, 096 Space and general utilities.
6, 140 Corridors, lobby, halls, etc.-
7, 184 1, 113
386 Walls, partitions, etc.
2, 957 Total...
30, 318 However, the square feet available for bed space they figured on the following
On the first floor, rear of the building, there are 20 rooms, each 10 by 12, each containing 96 square feet, which gives 20 beds on a 96 square foot basis. and a desirable basis of 100 square feet.
Incidentally, Army regulations require a minimum of 72 square feet per bedfeet each, in which it was assumed that they could put four beds in each of the two
There are two wards in that same part of the building, 12 by 20 feet, 240 square wards, which would give you eight beds averaging only 60 square feet per bedbut that is the only one in which the space alloiment was less than the Army reru1ations specify. And it was thought that eight beds would not violate the thing
Closets and serving space.
Then on the second floor front, there are six rooms, 8 by 11 feet, which would give you six beds on an 88 square foot basis.
There are seven rooms each containing 115 square feet which gave seven beds at 11542 square feet per bed. As you will note, there were seven rooms that were too small to put two beds in a room, and they were 1572 feet only in excess of the desirable amount.
There was one room containing 143 square feet, in which we could get two beds on a 7112 square-foot bed allowance; and one room containing 154 feet in which they could get two beds providing 77 square feet per bed.
Then on the second floor rear, there were five rooms, each containing 96 square feet, one bed per room, which gives five beds on a 96-square-foot basis.
Then in the Negro ward they had one room 8 by 10, containing 80 square feet, and one bed. They had one ward 9 by 40 feet, containing 360 square feet, which gave them five beds at 72 square feet per bed. They had one ward 9 by 32 feet, giving four beds, also at 72 square feet per bed.
It was contemplated that the large nurses' home would be used to house Army nurses; that the small nurses' home would house approximately 20 enlisted men. And there were 3 small buildings containing approximately 500 square feet, which could be used for storage.
That is the basis of the 60-bed capacity which we assumed for the building.
Mr. BURTON. In that estimate of $142,000 for leasing the hospital for 5 years, there was included the hospital equipment; was there not?
Colonel PERSON. No; that was the cost of remodeling.
Colonel PERSON. That is right. In other words, a strictly comparable cost estimate of what we would provide by construction and what would be provided by remodeling.
Mr. Burton. The hospital contained quite complete equipment, and that would have gone with the hospital at the same rental, as I understand it?
Colonc! PERSON. So I understand.
Mr. DURHAM. Did he ever at any time submit to you people what he would take for the hospital?
Colonel PERSON. On a lease basis; yes, sir. On a purchase basis, I don't know; I don't think so.
Colonel O'Brien would be better prepared than I to state that, because he has charge of the real-estate rents.
Mr. Sikes. When was it determined, Colonel, that the fire hazard was such that you could not use the hospital?
Colonel Person. Well, for a structure of this type, the fire requirements provide for a minimum of 12-inch masonry wall; 70 percent of this structure has an 8-inch wall.
Mr. Sikes. I say when was it determined that the building did not meet the requirements for fire protection?
Colonel PERSON. There was an initial survey made November 26, 1942; & resurvey December 1, and another check made on December 5, also 1942.
Mr. Šikes. When he was notified that his property would not be accepted?
Colonel PERSON. He was never notified that it would be. We issued, on December 22, a directive reinstating the authority for construction of the hospital on the site.
Mr. Sikes. When did you enter negotiations with him for his hospital?
Colonel PERSON. There were no formal negotiations, to the best of my knowledge and belief. He came to Washington and discussed with Colonel O'Brien the possibility of leasing the hospital to the Government. At that time he signed an option to lease at a $10,000 a year rental.
Mr. Sikes. When did he come to Washington?
Colonel PERSON. I am not sure as to that. That was, I believe, sometime in the late fall, probably in November.
Mr. Sikes. Apparently he went to considerable expense and trouble getting ready to turn this hospital over to the Army. Do you feel that he had no grounds for doing so?
Colonel Person. No, sir, I don't, precisely. I understand that there was considerable discussion between the local people at the Florence Air Base and Dr. Smyser, which might have led him to believe that he had a good chance to lease the hospital or even possibly to sell it. I know that there was never & formal, or never any, agreement made by the Army to
Mr. Sikes (interposing). Was the fire hazard the only reason for turning down his offer?
Colonel Person. That was the compelling reason. There was a collateral reason that, based on our estimates made at the time, it appeared that it would be more economical to construct, but
Mr. Sıkes (interposing). More economical to construct that than to lease? Colonel PERSON. *Than to lease and remodel; yes, sir. Mr. SIK Es. I doubt that seriously, Colonel. Colonel Person. Well, it is based on the estimated figures. It would havo cost approximately $2,300 per bed to take over the hospital by lease and remodel it, and somewhat less than that on the basis of constructing a 115-bed hospital.
The hospital which was actually built is an 85-bed hospital on a 115-bed chassis; that is to say, we have provided the clinical facilities and administrative facilities necessary for a 115-bed hospital, and have built wards to accommodate 85 patients. So that by the construction of one additional ward at a cost of, roughly, $12,000 or $13,000, it will become a 115-bed hospital. That is quite standard practice in view of the fact that we do have expansions, and have had expansions of almost every hospital that has been constructed.
Mr. DtRHAM. That is not a fireproof hospital, is it? Colonel Person. No; it is a single-story, mobilization type hospital. We don't require fireproof construction in single-story buildings.
Mr. Sikes. Getting back to the time element, there was a period of several months during which Dr. Smyser apparently thought he was in the process of leasing his hospital to the armed forces, and during which the matter of fire hazard hadn't been brought into the picture; is that true?
Colonel PERSON. I believe it is. We first were requested or, to go back to the whole story, we were asked by the Army Air Forces in August to construct at Florence the typical mobilization type hospital. We authorized that work on September 1 of 1942.
On October 15 the Army Air Forces requested us to suspend construction on the hospital pending the investigation of the possibility of leasing or purchasing existing civilian facilities. Mr. SIKES. How did Dr. Smyser come into the picture, by his own volition or Colonel Person. I don't know that, sir. That was before I got in the picture.
approached by the representatives of the armed forces? I first got into the picture when we got this letter of October 15, but I understand that Colonel Crandall of the Office of the Air Surgeon, had visited the site and had looked, at least, at the hospital.
the figure of twenty-three hundred-and-some dollars that you listed as the cost of leasing and remodeling the Smyser hospital.
Colonel Person. Yes, sir.
Mr. SIKES. How much of that represented lease and how much remodeling? leasing, for the 5-year period. Colonel PERSON. As I recall it, it was $92,000 for remodeling and $50,000 for
and the rest of it for remodeling? Colonel PERSON. Roughly, yes, sir.
involved in putting that hospital into use, as contrasted with the construction of new hospital facilities?
Colonel PERSON. Oh, I think there is every probability that the existing hospital could have been put in shape sooner than the new facilities actually were put in Mr. SIKES. When were the new facilities completed? Colonel PERSON. The construction proper was completed March 31, and they
or by May 1. remodeling?
MI SIKES: Could you have used the Smyser Hospital as it was, without any
form to; as a matter of fact, even with this remodeling, as I have stated before, it
Colonel PERSON. No, sir; not and conform to our standards which we must corwould not have met the basic requirement of fire-resistant construction.
all with and talked to him. Colonel PERSON. Yes, sir; he talked to Colonel O'Brien; he came to Washington
carrying on negotiations, too? Colonel PERSON. On the basis of a lease. Mr. DURHAM. And the Surgeon General of the Air Corps was carrying on
Colonel Person. I know he was down there and saw the hospital. What he said to Smyser or what Smyser said to him, I don't know.
Mr. DURHAM. He testified here that his personnel was all assured of employment, and they went so far as to employ some of them, I believe.
Colonel PERSON. That is what he told me.
Colonel Person. I understand the local Air Corps commander hired his cook. He was very much concerned about that, and I can't say that I blame him.
Mr. DURHAM. It seems to me that there were too many people carrying on negotiations there.
Colonel PERSON. Well, there may have been discussion locally of which 'I have no knowledge, that may have led him to believe that it was a practical certainty instead of merely a possibility, but Colonel O'Brien, as I say, had an option to lease, which provided that in the event the option was to be taken up, he would be given a 10-day notice.
Now the option was, of course, never taken up, and he had—in other words, how far he was led to believe that he was minus a hospital
Mr. Sikes (interposing). If the Government went in and hired his people out from under him he must have had a pretty good idea that something was about to take place.
Colonel PERSON. As I say, that is hearsay, and I have no knowledge of it, so I can't testify to it. That is what he told me, and I have no reason to think that it wasn't actually the case.
Mr. Burton. Do you consider the fire hazard as being prohibitive of its use?
Colonel PERSON. We would not recommend taking over a structure of that type for a hospital. Now its use for housing of troops-in other words, if it were proposed as housing for additional troops on a training basis, it might be all right, but we wouldn't recommend converting a structure of that type for hospital purposes.
Mr. Sikes. I am still unable to see, Colonel, how these negotiations proceeded so far without it being determined that the structure was unsuitable for use as a hospital?
Colonel PERSON. Well, sir, as I said, we had our first indication of the possible use of this hospital on October 15, asking us to suspend construction pending the investigation of the availability of the hospital.
Mr. Sikes. Would your femodeling have made it safe
Colonel PERSON (interposing). No, sir; no; the basic fault with the structure is the fact that it has 8-inch walls instead of the required 12-inch walls.
Mr. DURHAM. Would it have met the standard fire insurance regulations?
Colonel PERSON. That is based upon the New York Building Code, which we have adopted as the standard code.
Mr. DURHAM. You people have adopted that as a standard code? Colonel PERSON. Yes, sir. Mr. Durham. And it did not meet those requirements? Colonel PERSON. No, sir. Mr. Durham. Mr. Burton, do you have any questions? Mr. BURTON. Yes. I would like now, Colonel, to have you give details of the cost of the hospital which was constructed there?
Colonel Person. That was constructed under a lump-sum contract, at a construction cost of $194,876, with the H. S. B. and F. J. Construction Co.
Mr. BURTON. Do you know when that contract was awarded?
Colonel PERSON. No, sir; I do not. It was sometime after December 22, and it was some time between December 22 and January 6, because we reauthorized the construction on December 22, and actual work started on January 6.
Mr. DURHAM. How many beds did that give you?
Colonel Person. Eighty-five, sir. It is on a 128-bed plan. I said 115, and I was in error.
Mr. Burton. In a letter dated April 19, 1943, subject, House Military Affairs Committee Investigating Saunders Memorial Hospital, Florence, S. C., addressed to Lt. Col. Miles H. Knowles and signed by you, it gives the items of expense which had been incurred prior to the beginning of actual construction, and these amount to $50,545.05.
Colonel PERSON. That is correct, sir.
Mr. BURTON. Can you state whether or not the contract for construction, amounting to $194,876, had been awarded at the time these items of expense were incurred?