In 1897 the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Employee Hospital was formed in Huntington, WV. It was built so railroad employees could receive pre-paid hospital care that was covered by all railroad employees paying monthly fees.The system worked well for decades but by the 1960s it faced two problems: First, the increasing availability of medical care negated the need for C&O employees to travel so far for hospitalization. Second, the end of rail passenger service meant C&O employees no longer could use free passes to travel to the hospitals in Huntington or Clifton Forge. Reluctantly, the association was forced to close its hospitals.
In 1971, the old building was put to new use as Doctors' Memorial Hospital, a community hospital named in honor of three Huntington doctors - H.D. "Pete" Proctor, Ray R. Hagley and Joseph E. Chambers - who were killed in the 1970 Marshall University plane crash.
In 1974, a private non-profit bought Doctors' Memorial so the building could be used by MU's then-new medical school. When new facilities were constructed at the VA Medical Center and Cabell Huntington Hospital, the med school moved out. In 2001, the vacant building was demolished so the site could be used for student parking.
Now you might wonder why this piece of history is important to me? Because when my cousin, Patty, and I were around 15 or 16 I became Candy Stripers for the Doctor's Memorial Hospital. I have such wonderful memories of those days. I think we went there on Saturday's if I remember correctly. We took the snack cart around to all the floors and all the rooms to see if anyone needed any snacks. We also delivered mail and flowers to individual rooms. We had such an amazing time there and felt such compassion for all the patients. Having loved doing that, I've often missed those days and wonder why I never looked to the medical field for a career? Who knows. I just know that those were some wonderful memories from my youth. And I remember I loved my candy striper uniform with those big pockets.