East TN TB Hospital Established (1944)

TB Hospital, Now Financed, Has Traveled a Rocky Road

Fight Began in Early 1920’s, but Bill Was Vetoed and Struggle Went on Until Gov. Cooper Put It Over

Knoxville News-Sentinel, April 24, 1944 [page not indicated on clipping]

Expansion of Beverly Hills Sanatorium to a million dollar plant, in every way complete, provided for by the State’s allocation of a half-million dollars, is the fruition of a long period of planning and working which date back to 1924.

The State Tuberculosis Hospital Commission laid plans for conversion of Beverly Hills into East Tennessee State Tuberculosis Hospital at its Saturday meeting in Nashville.

“In 1924 when Beverly Hills opened,” Dr. Herbert Acuff, chairman of the board of the sanatorium and president of the State Tuberculosis Association, said, “we began being swamped with calls from victims of the disease from all over this territory.

“Then I – and others who were interested – went to work on a program to provide a bed for every tubercular person in Tennessee.”

Early in the 1920’s civic groups organized all over the state, and pushed a bill providing modernization of the state’s health services through both the House and Senate at Nashville.

Peay Vetoed the Bill

But Governor Austin Peay, who envisioned relief for the bad condition of public roads, felt that the money must go to health or highways – and vetoed the bill, sending the money to highways.

At General Assembly in January, 1943, Gov. Cooper asked for the Tuberculosis Hospital Bill, which passed both houses. He ordered the Funding Board to issue bonds amounting to a million and a half dollars for the purpose of erecting and furnishing three state tuberculosis hospitals – one for each Grand Division.

And that 1943 Act provided for the appointment of a commission with authority to make application for Federal grants to supplement state funds, as well as to select sites for the three hospitals.

Gov. Cooper made himself a member of this commission, and further appointed Dr. R. H. Hutcheson, state commissioner of public health; James J. Broome, speaker of the House of Representatives; J. H. Ballew, speaker of the Senate, and Dr. O. W. Hyman, dean of the U-T Medical College in Memphis.

Headquarters Established

The old Masonic Home building in Nashville was selected, renovated and put into operation with the expressed hope on the part of the Governor that the present site soon will give way to a new structure.

In Memphis, Shelby County and the city offered a $475,000 contribution, for a hospital to be erected on a site furnished by U-T Medical School. This hospital will represent, according to plans, a $1,300,000 investment.

That left $700,000 for the East Tennessee Institution, and the Governor’s Emergency Fund threw in another $75,000.

Much discussion was carried on over location of the E-T hospital at Chattanooga or Knoxville, during which Knoxville and Knox County offered $50,000 each, and the Beverly Hills plant – worth some quarter of a million plus $50,000 for its herd of dairy cattle – was offered to the state for expansion.

Chattanooga and Hamilton County offered a tract of land and $225,000 in cash.

They Liked Beverly Hills

Dr. Acuff said each member of the commission looked over the Beverly Hills site, and was gratified with the entire layout. “The Governor was particularly impressed by the herd of cattle.

“We felt here that we were at the geographical center of this Grand Division, as well as at the center of population,” Dr. Acuff declared.

“We will continue to fight for Chattanooga to have adequate facilities. It would work well for them to take the surgical unit so cases of that type in Hamilton and adjoining counties could be treated there.”

Dr. Acuff hopes the building process will be under way by the convening of the 1945 Legislature in January – priorities for materials must be obtained, and plans drawn – so that the Assembly can be presented with a nearly complete layout for which it may appropriate maintenance expenses.

The City, County and Community Chest will continue to maintain Beverly Hills until it becomes East Tennessee State Tuberculosis Hospital – then Knox County will pay its per capita quota for support of the state institution.

Leave a Reply