Smaller hospitals once dotted Silver Creek

The recent closing announcement of Lake Shore Hospital in Irving came as a shock to not only those in its care but past patients who remember its formation over 50 years ago.

Previous to its existence, three houses in the village of Silver Creek served as small local hospitals. One was the Rhineheart Hospital on Buffalo Street operated by the Rhineheart family. The other was the Silver Creek Hospital, which was owned and operated by Mrs. Neva Agnew, R.N.

In these converted homes, patients’ rooms were small compared to today’s standards. Being unequipped with elevators, patients were transported by stretchers up and down two flights of stairs to and from the ground floor operating room. Not long after the end of World War II these hospitals closed and another one was opened in the converted Victorian Ewell mansion on Main Street in the village.

It had originally been built in the mid-1800s by John Ewell, one of the founders of what today is S. Howes, Inc. Manufacturers.

The mansion was renamed Hanover General Hospital and was operated by Anthony and Margaret Taravella. This hospital was larger than the previous houses.

The baby nursery was located on the third floor in the former ballroom. It is interesting to note that some years later the Ewell mansion was demolished to make way for the present Silver Creek municipal parking lot.

When Lake Shore Hospital opened, Hanover General Hospital closed and Anthony and Margaret Taravella relocated to Dunkirk to run the Margaret-Anthony Nursing Home.

In the years before the building of Lake Shore Hospital in Irving, the small hospitals in Silver Creek served their purpose well with their limited medical knowledge available at that time. The erecting of Lake Shore Hospital in our area in the 1960s was not only a blessing, it was badly needed. It still is.

Agnes “Pat” Pfleuger is a Dunkirk resident.