The hospital’s opening in 1937 was honored by the American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps, the local high school choir, and prayer. Ohio’s governor at the time, Martin Davie, laid the building’s cornerstone.
Built to house 65 patient beds originally, in 1948 River Valley Hospital was expanded to include a four-story addition. Over the years, the hospital expanded its services and size to meet the needs of the community.
In March 2000, River Valley Hospital took on an ambitious, $5 million expansion plan, complete with improved imaging services, a new laboratory and cardiac rehabilitation department, and a remodeled pharmacy. The hospital also intended to build a 20,000 square foot fitness center (with an indoor track and basketball court).
The expansion never happened, and on January 31, 2001, the hospital closed. Four hundred employees lost their jobs. Blame was cast on the rising costs of medical care and lower reimbursements, especially for community hospitals.
Demolition of the hospital was also difficult, but in 2007, the Ohio Department of Development award a $750,000 Clean Ohio Assistance Fund grant to offset the expense. The hospital’s history was honored during a ceremony, with the following words offered by Bill Dickens, the Ironton Port Authority chairman:
“When the building was built there was a dedication, naturally and then with each addition, there was always a really nice ceremony. They were always well put together. Many of us were born there and many of our relatives died there, so it is a building that I have a lot of attachment to. I think may people in the community have a great attachment to it.”
Martha Rucker, a chaplain at the ceremony, also noted: “You, the people of Lawrence County General, of River Valley Health Systems, you served the community well. You provided healing.”
In a final tribute, Dr. Burton Payne, who practiced at River Valley Hospital from 1957 until it closed, stated: “Now, we must say good-bye to you, old friend. You served us well.”
Future plans include a new housing community, although the entryway will be a memorial to the hospital.
Photographs from AbandonedOnline.Net.