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SAUNDERS MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, FLORENCE, S. C. On August 26, 1942, the Army Air Forces requested construction of housing and miscellaneous facilities, including a station hospital, at Florence, S. C., for the Army Air Base, Troop Carrier Command. The strength authorized for the command was 2,200 men with possible expansion to 4,000. A contract for an 85-bed cantonment-type hospital was awarded and construction started thereon.

Prior thereto, during the month of June 1942, a survey had been made of the Saunders Memorial Hospital at Florence by representatives of the Office of the Surgeon General, United States Army, and a report filed showing a bed capacity of 85. At that time the air base was of a temporary nature, but later was designed to be permanent. In view of this, the hospital and accessory buildings were offered fully equipped to the United States Army as a base hospital for the air base at Florence. Arrangements were next made for an inspector of the Surgeon General's Washington office to visit Florence, and make a more detailed study of the hospital and its facilities.

Maj. Lee C. Gammill, Sanitary Corps, was directed to make the investigation. Simultaneously the Headquarters, Army Air Forces, requested the Chief of Engineers to suspend construction of the 85-bed cantonment-type hospital already authorized. This request was dated October 15, 1942, and signed by Col. L. P. Whitten. On October 15, 1942, Major Gammill made a report to the Surgeon General, the Chief Surgeon of the Air Forces, and the surgeon of the Troop Carrier Command, in which he stated that the Saunders Memorial Hospital was an 85-bed institution, 3 stories high, and of semifireproof construction. It was in operation and fully equipped with modern hospital appointments. Since the hospital was more than sufficient for the civilian populace, the owner wished to lease it to the Army Air Forces, fully equipped and ready to receive military patients. Colonel Chaplin, commanding officer at the Florence Air Base, considered the acquisition of this civilian hospital in lieu of constructing and equipping a standard cantonment hospital. The Saunders Hospital was situated approximately 134 miles from the air base and was readily a cessible by routes not traversing the main part of the city. The surgeon, Troop Carrier Command, also considered the Saunders Memorial Hospital adeq ate and concurred in the recommendation for its acquisition.

Dr. John D. Smyser, owner of the hospital, stated that his invest inent was about $242,000, that he would prefer to lease tha building and equipment to the Government for the duration of the war at $10,000 to $15,000 per annum. Therafore, the recommendation was that the hospital be acquired with all equipment for use as the station hospital, Army Air Base, Troop Carrier Command.

Dr. Smyser visited Washington and consulted with representatives of the Surgeon General's Office and of the Real Estate Branch, Corps of Engineers. The rental figure was agreed upon and an option to lease was signed by Dr. Smyser, providing for a rental of $10,000 per annum. This included not only the hospital but also its full equipment valued at $25,000 to $35,000, with the understanding that on 10 days' notice the Army could take possession. Upon returning to Florence, Dr. Smyser made arrangements for the discontinuance of his training school for nurses 1 and the placing of about 30 student nurses in other schools. Income from this source had been $1,500 a year. He also made arrangements to admit no patients for major surgery or protracted illnesses, and no admissions to the hospital for more than a 10-day period, thereby seriously depleting the earnings of his hospital.

Architects and engineers visited the hospital regularly for several days, making inspections and calculations as to the alterations necessary to meet the requirements of an Army base hospital. The base surgeon at the Florence Air Base visited the hospital and hired the laundry personnel and the chief cook, and attempted to employ Dr. Smyser's bookkeeper and secretary.

An inspection tour was made by about 100 professional and businessmen of Florence, during which Colonel Griffin, district engineer for both North and South Carolina, indicated where the various administrative buildings, barracks, and warehouses were to be located, and made the statement that orders had been received from Washington not to proceed with the erection of the temporary cantonment hospital because the War Department was going to take over one of the private hospitals in Florence. In view of this assertion of Colonel Griffin's, and owing to the fact that an option to lease had been signed by Dr. Smyser, it became generally understood that the Saunders Memorial Hospital was to be taken over by the Government. This resulted in the loss of many of its potential patients and the seeking of other employment by its personnel.

1 The day after my return from Washington, after signing the optional lease, requiring 10 days for evacus. tion of patients, I was visited by the Florence Air Base surgeon, who asked me how long it would take if I had made arrangements to evacuate my unambulatory patients, and he was advised that all arrangements had been made.

Considerable correspondence between the Engineer Corps and the Army air base indicated that acquisition of the Saunders Memorial Hospital was being considered. In December 1942 Dr. Smyser again visited Washington because he had not received any definite information as to when the hospital would be taken over. He interviewed Colonel O'Brien of the Real Estate Branch, Corps of Engineers, who asked whether he would be interested in selling instead of renting. Several days later Dr. Smyser informed Colonel O'Brien that the book value was $242,000 and the plant could be purchased for that amount.?. No further word came to Dr. Smyser, so on January 5, 1943, he requested definite and final information as to what action was going to be taken in connection with the hospital. The following day he received a telegram stating, “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." Thereupon, construction work was ordered to be resumed on the cantonment-type hospital.

The substance of the foregoing report was placed before the subcommittee in the course of testimony adduced April 10, 1943, by Dr. John D. Smyser. Another open hearing was held June 16, 1943, at which testimony of Col. John L. Person, Office of the Chief of Engineers, United States Army, was recorded. Colonel Person offered figures submitted by the district engineer at Charleston to demonstrate that the estimated cost of remodeling the Saunders Memorial Hospital would approximate $92,000. This, added to $245,000, the appraised value of the property on a purchase basis, would make a total cost of $337,000 to provide a 60-bed hospital, or $5,500 to $5,600 per bed.

An estimate prepared by the Real Estate Branch, contingent upon a 5-year lease of the property at $10,000 per annum, placed the total cost of remodeling at $142,000, or about $2,300 per bed for a 60-bed hospital, not including equipment.

Colonel Person stressed the point, however, that the matter of cost was not the prime consideration in ultimately rejecting Dr. Smyser's hospital. The main reason the War Departmer.t recommerded against the acquisition of that property, either through purchase or rental, was that it would not meet the fire-prevention requirements of the National Board of Fire Underwriters, whose standard code has been adopted by the War Department. Among other things, these requirements call for a minimum of 12-inch masonry wall, whereas 70 percent of the Saunders Hospital has an 8-irch wall.

To refute the War Department's charge that his hospital was a fire hazard, Dr. Smyser produced letters from the local fire department, architects, building inspector, and insurance companies to the effect that such was not the case, that he was carrying about $88,000 fire insurance at 80 cents a hundred dollars, the standard rate for that part of the city of Florence.

While Dr. Smyser had maintained that by making certain alterations, such as the removal of partitions, his plant could have increased its over-all facilities to 120 beds, yet in the purview of the War Department, based on provisions for space and Army regulations which require 72 to 100 square feet per bed, it would still be å 60-bed hospital On December 22, 1942, the War Department issued a directive authorizing the resumption of construction work on a single-story mobilizationtype hospital which had been suspended 1 month earlier at the request of the Army Air Forces pending their canvass of available civilian facilities. The estimated cost thereof was $194,876 (lump-sum contract) to which should be added $5,506.48 for kitchen equipment and $54,039.51 for hospital equipment, bringing the total cost up to $254,421.99.


The subcommittee is firmly convinced that Dr. Smyser was justified in believing, from the words and actions of patently responsible Government officials, that his Saunders Memorial Hospital was about to be taken over for Army use, either by purchase or rental.

According to Dr. Smysei's testimony, Major Gammill. who conducted the survey for the Sanitary Corps, said he was sold on the idea of taking over the : I asked Colonel O'Brien to make me a price, which he promised to do the following day. It could have then, and can now be bought for $175,000. Colonel O'Brien never made any offer whatsoever; $245,000 was the estimate made by the Engineer Corps, U.S. Army, but that price or no other price was ever asked for the hospital.

Saunders Memorial Hospital; he 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; Colonel Griffin, 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, 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 thé 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, United States Army, 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 fo: use. It is believed that an unnecessary delay of 3 months has resulted.”




FEBRDARY 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. 1837)

The Committee on Claims, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 1837) for the relief of Thula B. Wellborn, having considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.

An identical bill was favorably reported by this committee and passed the House in the Seventy-eighth Congress.

The facts will be found fully set forth in House Report No. 433, Seventy-eighth Congress, which is appended hereto and made a part of this report.

(H. Rept. No. 433, 78th Cong.. Ist sess. The purpose of the proposed legislation is to pay to Thula B. Wellborn, of Garland, Ark., the sum of $419.50, in full settlement of all claims against the United States by reason of damages sustained by her as a result of being required by the Civil Service Commission of the United States and the Post Office Department of the United States to resign as a school teacher in Miller County, Ark., in order to be eligible to accept appointment as postmaster at Garland, Ark., and the failure to appoint her to the latter position after such resignation and her place as a school teacher having been filled by another after such resignation and it being too late to negotiate a contract for a teaching position elsewhere.


The Civil Service Comission certified three eligibles for appointment as postmaster at Garland, Ark., and the name of Mrs. Thula B. Wellborn was second on the list. She was selected for appointment and, in accordance with the usual procedure of the Department at that time, she was informed on July 27, 1940, that as postmaster she would be required to devote 8 hours personal attention daily to the duties of the office during the business portion of the day and it was not believed she could meet this requirement while teaching 'school, and if she wished to accept the postmastership at Garland, it would be necessary for her to resign as school teacher, a position she was then filling. She tendered her resignation as school teacher, but was then informed that it would be necessary for her to pass a medical examination. This she failed to do, and her appointment as postmaster was rescinded on December 5, 1940.

After she had resigned as school teacher, the school board filled the position by employing another. When on December 5, 1940, all efforts by Mrs. Wellborn to obtain a medical certificate had failed, and her appointment as postmaster was rescinded, it was too late for her to obtain another teaching position. However, on February 17, 1941, she was reemployed as a teacher in the Garland school at a salary of $10 per month, so that her period of unemployment ran from around September 1, 1940, to February 17, 1941, during which period she would have earned approximately $419.50. This sum she did not earn for the reason that she had been appointed postmaster, and was required to resign as school teacher, but could never take over as postmaster for the reason that she could not measure up to minimum physical requirements.

Your committee feel that her loss would not have occurred had she been required to take the physical examination before being appointed postmaster, that the Government is thus responsible for her loss, that her claim is just, and that she is entitled to receive $419.50, the sum she would have otherwise earned.

Your committee, therefore, recommend favorable consideration of the proposed legislation.

Appended hereto are departmental reports, together with other pertinent evidence, all of which is made a part of this report.


Washington, D. C., March 29, 1943. Hon. Dan R. McGEHEE, Chairman, Committee on Claims,

House of Representatives. MY DEAR MR. McGEHEE: Your letter of March 4, 1943, requested a report upon H. R. 1310, a bill for the relief of Thula B. Wellborn.

In line 6, of the bill the place of residence of the claimant is given as Garland, Kans., instead of Garland, Ark.

The Civil Service Commission certified three eligibles for apponitment as postmaster at Garland and the name of Mrs. Thula B. Wellborn was second on the list. She was selected for appointment and in accordance with the usual procedure of the Department at that time she was informed on July 27, 1940, that in the event of her appointment as postmaster she would be required to devote 8 hours personal attention daily to the duties of the office during the business portion of the day, and it was not believed she could meet the requirement while teaching school. She was informed that if she wished to accept the postmastership at Garland, it would be necessary for her to resign as school teacher. Herewith is a copy of the letter addressed to her on that date. She tendered her resignation as school teacher and the Department had considerable correspondence with the Civil Service Commission with regard to her medical certificate. There is submitted herewith a copy of a letter from Mr. William C. Hull, executive assistant, Civil Service Commission, dated November 27, 1940, setting forth the reasons for the action of the Commission in declining to approve the medical certificate furnished by Mrs. Wellborn.

In view of the decision of the Coinmission there was no alternative for the Department other than to select one of the other eligibles for postmaster at Garland. The appointment of Mrs. Wellborn on August 6, 1940, was rescinded on December 5, 1940.

This matter was made the subject of an investigation and there is submitted herewith for the information of your committee a copy of the report of the postoffice inspector dated December 11, 1942. It will be seen from this report that prior to her resignation, Mrs. Wellborn had been employed as principal of the high school at Garland, at a salary of $76.50 per month; that on February 17, 1941, she was reemployed as a teacher at a salary of $70 per month and received for the remainder of the scholastic year ending May 2, 1941, a total of $102.50. Had she continued employment in her original position from September 1940 to May 2, 1941, her total compensation would apparently have been $612, the aggregate sum for 8 months' service at $76.50 per month. As a result of her reemployment the records of the superintendert of schools at Garland show that she received a total of $192.50. Thus the inference in the bill that Mrs. Wellborn received $636 less than she would have received had she continued her employment as high-school principal is in error, the correct sum being approximately $419.50.

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