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The 1960s

For the nation, the Sixties were a decade of change for everyone. President Kennedy's assassination, the Great Society, Vietnam War, moon landing, and shifts in values changed forever the way Americans would look at themselves and the world. For hospitals, the beginning of Medicare in July 1966 had similar effects. The Medicare program, established to fund health care services for senior citizens and those with disabilities, fundamentally changed the dynamics of health care delivery and reimbursement.

Braintree Visiting Nurses, 1963
In 1963, Braintree Visiting Nurses, like (l-r)
Ethel Warren, Roancy Horne, Catherine Dunn,
and Elizabeth Cropper, made 8,620 visits.

Another major change was also in store for the Hospital that would help it grow through the end of the decade. It centered on the 1963 resolution of a long-standing controversy. A trust fund, established in 1923 by Laban Pratt, had been willed to build a town-owned hospital in North Weymouth. By the early 1960s, the fund had grown to $900,000 - a considerable amount, but not enough to build a hospital. It was eventually negotiated that the funds would go toward a new wing for South Shore Hospital (it was argued that Pratt, who had moved away, might not have known of the small hospital's existence), and in 1963 the will was broken. The money would go toward South Shore Hospital's expansion; the Hospital's medical staff would take an active role in planning for the new wing.

In 1967, the Reed Mansion - the original Weymouth Hospital building - was demolished, and Phase I of the Laban Pratt Wing was opened to patients, followed by intensive and coronary care units later that year. Because of a great need for Hospital services, each section of the wing was occupied as soon as it was finished until 1969, when the Laban Pratt building project was completed. The Hospital now had 239 beds.

To better coordinate the increasing caseload in many specialties, the medical staff organized medical, surgical, anesthesia, pediatric, obstetric, and accident room committees in 1961. The Hospital's first director of volunteers was hired in 1963. Moonlighting residents began to be used regularly to staff the emergency department, and in 1965, the laboratory received accreditation from the College of American Pathologists. A Code 9 (resuscitation) program and a chaplain service were established in 1966, followed by radiation therapy, a security department, a public relations department, and an EKG unit in 1967.

ED Patient, 1968
Physicians with patient in the Emergency Department in 1968.

South Shore Hospital was once again at the forefront in 1968 when it established a day-surgery program, the first of its kind at a community hospital in the Greater Boston area. In 1969, the Hospital opened a cardiac care unit and obstetrical recovery room, established inhalation therapy, nuclear medicine, and personnel departments, and organized a safety committee and a program for patient care continuity. To keep up with the diversification of medicine, medical staff shifted from general practice to specialty, subspecialty, and superspecialty medicine.

Donald Duke succeeded Dr. Arthur Perkins as director in 1968.


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