A History of Community-Based Care at University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center

On May 28, 1907, a committee of prominent community members, including F.A. Smythe, E.F. Allen and Reverend John P. Sala, met to discuss the need for a permanent hospital in the city. Because there was no central location for medical care, it was believed a hospital would have a significant positive impact on the small town. Two days later, Memorial Day, May 30, 1907, streetcar 129 was on Middle Avenue heading towards downtown Elyria. The car was overloaded; some passengers were standing and sitting on a platform on the rear of the car. A second streetcar, 123, was following closely behind. When 129 made a stop at 5th Street near Elyria High School, the driver of car 123 did not stop in time and the two streetcars crashed into each other.

The lack of adequate hospital facilities in the area meant immediate, life-saving care was unavailable, attributing to the deaths of nine passengers. Eight others lost one or both legs; two were crippled for life and scores of others suffered from various injuries. Two of the fatalities included the children of Edgar “Daddy” Allen and Reverend Sala.

This tragedy ultimately led to the creation of a hospital. On June 4, 1907, a hospital company was incorporated and a $100,000 building fund was established. More than a dozen sites were considered before a four-acre tract of land on East River Street was purchased—the current location of UH Elyria Medical Center.

By the end of the town’s campaign, the new hospital had exceeded its goal by $5,000. On November 17, 1907 more than 2,000 people gathered to witness the cornerstone laying by Edgar Allen and hear featured addresses by Reverend Sala and Mayor Clayton Chapman.

Under the guidance of a newly-elected Board of Trustees, Elyria Memorial Hospital opened on October 30, 1908 with 36 beds. The trustees included:

  • W.W. Boynton
  • F.A. Smythe
  • T.T. Robinson
  • E.F. Allen
  • George D. Nicholas, MD
  • W.N. Gates
  • Reverend John P. Sala
  • A.L. Garford
  • Albert Kistner
  • Charles E. Tucker

In addition to the creation of what is now UH Elyria Medical Center, Edgar Allen turned the personal loss of his son in the streetcar accident into positive momentum to build the Gates Hospital for Crippled Children in 1915.

The Gates Hospital facility was the first in the nation devoted exclusively to the care and treatment of crippled children. Allen eventually formed the Ohio, National and International Societies for Crippled Children and through his efforts to raise funds and awareness, in 1935 the Easter Seals Society was born. An Ohio Historical Marker commemorating Allen's work currently stands on the grounds of UH Elyria Medical Center.

UH Elyria Medical Center Today: Serving the Community with Personalized Care

Today, UH Elyria Medical Center is a nationally recognized health care facility that serves the people of Lorain County, western Cuyahoga County and beyond. Although it has grown to more than 10 times the size of the original Elyria Memorial Hospital (with 387 licensed beds and nearly 2,200 employees), the original concept of community-based care has not changed. As an 11-time “100 Top Hospital” designee and 13-time “NorthCoast 99 Top Employer”, UH Elyria Medical Center has built on its solid foundation to become a one of the leading health care organizations in the nation.

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