McKay-Dee Hospital

(801) 387-2800Map4401 Harrison Blvd.Ogden, UT 84403

The Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital Association was incorporated February 3, 1910, with Mrs. Dee as president and Maude Dee Porter as secretary. A few days later, Mrs. Dee and her children conveyed to the Association a three-acre tract of land on the corner of Harrison Boulevard and 24th Street.

Name, purpose and longevity of the Association were listed in the articles of incorporation:

  1. The Association shall be known as "THOMAS D. DEE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION"
  2. It shall exist for One Hundred years from the date of incorporation;
  3. It is created for the purpose of maintaining, operating and conducting hospitals and other institutions for the care and treatment of sick, wounded, injured or infirm persons; of maintaining schools and other places for the education and training of nurses; of acquiring holding, owning and controlling suitable grounds and structures to carry out the objects of this corporation, with power to receive from any source whatever gifts, donations, devises and bequests of real and personal property, for the use and benefit of the corporation.

Hospitals in the United States and Europe were studied and plans were prepared by Ogden architect L. S. Hodgson. The contract to build the Hospital was awarded to C. J. Humphris of Ogden for $46,625. Terms were simple. In Mr. Humphris' handwriting, dated July 14, 1909, the contract read:

"I propose to build a Hospital for the Thomas D. Dee Company according to plans and specifications for the sum of forty-six thousand six hundred twenty five dollars; $46,625.00 C. J. Humphris"


Annie shoveled the first dirt to break the ground for the Hospital on July 10, 1909.

According to an account in the Ogden Standard,

"The structure will be one of the most modern of its kind in the United States. Everything will be complete and perfect in its detail, such as heating, lighting, ventilation, signal system, etc.

"The main building will be built of red brick, 60 feet by 148 feet, and four stories and basement, and will have wards for the accommodation of 100 patients. It will be erected in the center of a 3½ acre tract of land. The porches, of which there will be three, will be fire proof with iron stairways. The main walls on each floor will be of brick and the entrance to the corridors will be protected with bronze-covered doors. All the wards will be roomy and will be furnished with the latest style of furniture.

"The operating room on the second floor will be modern throughout and furnished with the best obtainable equipment. The floor will be lead instead of tile. The walls will be finished in white tile and all the furnishings will be enameled white. On the first floor will be the receiving and dressing rooms. In the latter rooms those cases which will not require an operation will be treated. The fourth floor will be what is to be known as the men's floor and will have a very large ward. The fifth floor will be the women's floor and will contain a large, sunny ward for women patients. Each floor will have its own diet kitchen and patients will have their meals served in the wards.

"The building will cost about $875,000 and the furnishings and equipment will cost an additional $25,000. In connection with the building of the main structure a large boiler house and laundry will also be constructed. From this will be furnished the heat, electric light and power for the large elevator in the center of the building."

Cornerstone Laid

Cornerstone Ceremony

The building's cornerstone was laid in the northwest corner of the building on September 27, 1910 at 12 noon by Judge Henry H. Rolapp. Community leaders and members of the Dee family attended. Deposited in the cornerstone were a portrait of Thomas D. Dee and one of Mrs. Dee and her children; a typewritten account of the family and reasons for building the Hospital, a copy of the Articles of Incorporation of the Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital Association; copies of the Desert Evening News, Salt Lake Herald Republican, Ogden Morning Examiner; clippings from various papers eulogizing Mr. Dee; a scalpel, scissors and forceps from Dr. Joyce; two 1905 Liberty Head nickels; and cards of 43 people attending the ceremony, as well as souvenir postcards of Ogden and Salt Lake City.

The Hospital was ready for occupancy on December 29, 1910; and a proud and happy Annie Dee formally presented the memorial hospital to the public, in a ceremony on the fourth floor.

Ogden Mayor William Glasmann and Weber County Commissioner Oscar B. Madson spoke for the public in accepting the gift. Civic Leader A. R. Haywood and Dr. Ezra C. Rich of the Weber County Medical Society also spoke, as did Judge Henry H. Rolapp and Dr. A. A. Condon. The dedicatory prayer was offered by Bishop James Taylor, and Rev. John Edward Carver of the First Presbyterian Church pronounced the benediction.

Members of the first board of Trustees were: Mrs. Thomas D. Dee, president; Father P.M. Cushnahan and John S. Lewis, vice-presidents; John Watson, treasurer; Mrs. R. B. (Maude Dee) Porter, secretary; H. H. Rolapp, F. I. Kiesel, R. B. Porter, F. E. Lewis, William Glasmann, Dr. Robert S. Joyce, Dr. E. M. Conroy.

Fifteen Patients

Fifteen patients were transferred from Ogden General Hospital on December 31, two days after the opening. They were accompanied by five graduate nurses – Maude Edwards, Beda Nelson Woodbury, Winifred Howard Jarvis, Alice Manning and Mary Hornsby. Three student nurses were also transferred – Anna Hansen, Ethel Edwards and Marie Rasmussen. Maude Edwards was named superintendent of nurses, and Dr. Joyce became chief of staff.

Thirty-two physicians were on the original staff:

G.W. Barker, M.D
S. L. Bric, M.D.
W.J. Browning, M.D.
F.C. Clark, M.D.
A.S. Condon, M.D.
E.M. Conroy, M.D.
C. E. Coulter, M.D.
L.H. Crawshaw, M.D.
G. A. Dickson, M.D.
T.C. Doran, M.D.
John Driver, M.D.
E. R. Dumke, M.D.
H.B. Forbes, M.D.
W.G. Freiday, M.D.
J.S. Gordon, M.D.

G. W. Green, M.D
C.C. Hetzel, M.D.
Paul Ingebretson, M.D.
E. P. Mills M.D.
J. R. Morrell, M.D.
C.K. MacMurdy, M.D.
J.W. Pidcock, M.D.
Alice M. Ridge, M.D.
A. F. Ries, M.D.
A.A. Robinson, M.D.
E.H. Smith, M.D.
C. E. Wardleigh, M.D.
W.E. Whalen, M.D.
E.M. Worrell, M.D.

Rates at the Hospital were $3 a day for a private room, $2 for a ward, and $25 for 14 days as a maternity patient. The operating room charge was $10. Nurses' work day was 12 hours with 1/2-day off per week when the patient load permitted.

The first year's statistics show a total of 895 patients, 481 operations and five births. Births were paid for personally by Mrs. Dee to encourage delivery in the Hospital so that student nurses might be trained.

Excellent Hospital

The Dee, as it soon became known, was a proud and excellent hospital from the very beginning, even though hospitals then were generally regarded merely as bedrooms to house the sick and dying who could no longer be cared for at home.

In 1912, the first doctor began his internship at the Hospital, and in 1913 the Dee Hospital School of Nursing graduated its first class. Students were housed in the basement of the Hospital and classes were held in the evening after the students had worked full 12-hour shifts. Later, living quarters were moved to several houses near the Hospital, and this arrangement continued until August 1917, when a Nurses' Home was completed. First Graduating class, Dee Hospital School of Nursing.

First graduating class of Nursing School

First Graduating class, Dee Hospital School of Nursing

Ogden's first x-ray machine, a gift from Drs. Rich and Osgood, was received in 1913. Its usefulness was limited to detecting prominent bone fractures and large metallic foreign objects in the body. A hip joint picture required a 10-minute exposure.

First Blood Transfusion

Dr. Ezra Rich did the first blood transfusion in Ogden at the Dee on February 9, 1913. It was a direct gravity flow between two brothers, one of whom had been injured in a saw mill accident near Malad, Idaho. Typing and cross matching of blood was unknown at the time, but the injured patient recovered.

The Thomas D. Dee Company continued to take the entire administrative and financial responsibility for the Hospital. By 1914 it became evident that the Dee family could no longer be expected to maintain the Hospital which had accrued a substantial operating deficit since it opened. Minutes of the meeting of the Board of Trustees on July 22, 1914, state: "It is apparent that the hospital cannot continue to operate unless a maintenance fund be created to meet expenses of improvements and extensions."

Appeals for help in keeping the Hospital open were made to the Weber County Commissioners and to the medical staff. But the minutes of October 23 Board meeting show a resolution was adopted thanking "Mrs. Annie T. Dee and the Thomas D. Dee Company for their generous efforts to establish a hospital in this city, and for their continued financial support given to it during its operation." The minutes continue:

"BE IT RESOLVED that the further operation of the hospital be discontinued on and after the 15th day of November, 1914."

Two weeks later the Board met again to consider two propositions from the Weber Club to "devise means of preventing the closing of the Hospital." At the same meeting, Father P.M. Cushnahan, the Catholic priest who had been a member of the Board since the Hospital opened its doors, made "a verbal offer to take over the hospital, liquidate the outstanding indebtedness and maintain the memorial perpetually."

The Weber Club propositions were tabled, the minutes report, and Father Cushnahan was asked to put his proposal in writing. The Board adjourned until November 11. That meeting was canceled on the 10th when Thomas B. Evans, president of the Ogden Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wrote to Mrs. Dee: "I believe I can furnish you with a solution to the serious problem which now confronts us."

Goes to Elder McKay

Maude Dee Porter, reminiscing later, gives some insight into what the Dee family was doing personally during this period to save the Hospital.

Mrs. Porter recalled: "Then the time came when Mother had to take money out of her savings to run the Hospital. I can remember how depressed we were that the Hospital was going to fail. We didn't want that to happen, so Mother decided to talk to our friend, Elder David O. McKay."

Elder McKay, a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles of the Church, arranged an interview with Church President Joseph F. Smith and his counselors, Anthon H. Lund and Charles W. Penrose, and Presiding Bishop Charles W. Nibley.

Mrs. Porter remembered President Lund saying, "It is my opinion that the best work we can do is to take care of people who are sick and dependent at a time when they are in trouble."

Bishop Nibley was in agreement and a committee was appointed to investigate the Hospital.

By February, President Evans was ready with his proposition and a special Board meeting was called for the 16th to consider the Church proposal.

"We, the presidencies of the Weber, North Weber and Ogden Stakes have learned with much concern of the probability of the Dee Memorial Hospital's closing its doors because of financial difficulties. We feel it is an institution of such great value to the community that its loss as a hospital would be a calamity and that every effort should be made to save it to the people if possible. That this may be accomplished, we have decided to make you the following proposition:

  1. The title to the property now represented by the Dee Memorial Hospital is to be vested permanently in the three Presidencies or in the Weber Corporation of the Church, or in any legal organization that may be formed by us, the present title holder to relinquish all right and title thereto, the property to continue thereafter to be permanently used for hospital purposes.
  2. The presidencies of the three stakes named above will assume the present indebtedness of the Dee Memorial Hospital Association
  3. They will conduct the institution as a hospital and assume all liability thereunder, receiving the profits and meeting the expenses, including any improvements that may be made and the current annual expenses of the institution.
  4. They will perpetuate the Thomas D. Dee Memorial, not only as to the present property, but as to any additional buildings that may be erected as the needs of the institution require.

The letter was signed by the three Stake Presidents, L.W. Shurtliff, James Wotherspoon, and Thomas B. Evans, and their counselors.

The Board meeting minutes continue:

The Board met on March 29 and March 30, 1915, to adopt new Articles of Incorporation and to reorganize the Board along the lines requested by the Trustee in Trust of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Judge Rolapp was elected president; Maude Dee Porter was named secretary-treasurer. Board members were Robert S. Joyce, Lewis W. Shurtliff, Thomas B. Evans, James Wotherspoon and William H. Wattis. Mrs. Dee was asked to remain a Board Member in the new official capacity of Honorary Matron. She accepted and presented the Hospital with a check for $5,410, which represented her most recent contribution to shore up the struggling Hospital's finances.

Impressive Growth

The Hospital then entered on a period of impressive growth and accomplishments.

  • 1917 Nursing home and school completed. New x-ray machine purchased.
  • 1919 Nitrous oxide gas anesthesia first used.
  • 1919 South wing addition constructed and fully equipped laboratory established.
  • 1921 Radiology department organized.
  • 1922 Radium, the first in northern Utah, used in Hospital.
  • 1925 First full-time radiologist/pathologist joined the staff.
  • 1927 North wing constructed.
  • 1928 Physiotherapy added to Hospital services.
  • 1929 Pharmacy established, staffed by full-time pharmacist.
  • 1932 First oxygen tent used in Utah and Capitol Street parking lot given by Drs. Ezra and Clark Rich.
  • 1937 Central Service established, enabling centralized preparation of equipment and supplies. Now used universally by all hospitals, the Dee's Central Service department was the first in Utah.
  • 1938 Pediatrics division opened to provide special nursing care for children.
  • 1942 Separate pathology and radiology departments formed.
  • 1944 First penicillin administered.
  • 1946 Ogden Surgical Society formed in Nurses' Home auditorium and Blood Bank established to meet increasing demands for whole blood.
  • 1948 First outpatient clinics started.

Financial Burdens

Although its reputation as a health care institution continued to grow, by 1949 the Dee Hospital was again fighting a battle for economic survival.

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