Lost Hospital — Bethesda Oak Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio0

Bethesda Oak Hospital, founded by the Methodist-affiliated Deaconess Association, opened in 1898. Seven German Methodist deaconesses-women who had chosen the religious life and service to Methodist institutions staffed the facility in its early days. It closed 102 years later in 2000.

In the early 1990s, the hospital delivered more than 5,000 babies each year. It was a community hospital in the heart of a city that reflected the changes in the growing nation around it, not to mention a health care system coming into its own.

In the decade before Bethesda Oak opened, Cincinnati had one of the worst riots in American history after two individuals robbed and murdered their employer, a stable owner. The two were eventually captured, but one was spared from a death sentence. This resulted in public rage across city, later to be known as the “Courthouse Riots”. Deputies were forced to fight thousands of angry citizens, ultimately killing 45 men and injuring another 125.

A century later, around the same time Bethesda Oak closed in 2000, Cincinnati boasted of major new development projects within its boundaries, such as new, state-of-the-art stadiums for the City’s football and baseball teams, as well as two new museums.

As Cincinnati has grown and blossomed over the years, Bethesda Oak’s demise in many ways reflected the changes in healthcare throughout the 20th century.

As stated by a hospital surgeon: “It’s a very great disappointment to see it close. We’re losing relationships with people we’ve known for a long time. It’s odd now to go over to 2 West [her surgical wing in the hospital]. No one is there now. The lights are all out.”

The area where a Bethesda Oak employee may have applied for a job in 1970, a red brick building, was now a White Castle.

Bethesda Oak employed 620 people before it closed. In its prime, the 450-bed facility employed more than 1,000. As patients and revenue began to plummet in the 1990s (Bethesda Oak lost an estimated $19 million in 1999), the residents of Cincinnati lost another hospital.

Photographs from CincinnatiViews.net.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.