Tonawanda News

January 4, 2014

DeGraff to mark 100 years in NT

Residents urged to submit stories, photos for hospital's centennial celebration

By Jill Keppeler jill.keppeler@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — As DeGraff Memorial Hospital heads into its centennial year, there are plans to celebrate the landmark anniversary in style — but first, organizers hope for a little help from the public to tell the story of that past 100 years.

Phyllis Gentner, senior marketing associate for DeGraff and Kaleida Health, said that members of the anniversary planning committee are seeking community involvement to help locate historical memorabilia related to the hospital  — anything with an interesting background that might be used to help illustrate the hospital’s 100 years, from old bills to baby bracelets to photographs.

“We’re looking for any historical articles, photos, any memorabilia that might be nice to display for the 100th, which we would obviously return,” she said. “We love stories ... anyone who knows of any firsts, the first births, first patients, whatever.”

Those with stories or items can contact Gentner at 690-2005 or by email at pgentner@kaleidahealth.org. Some items can be scanned in and returned; others will be well cared for, Gentner said. Items or stories should be submitted by Jan. 30.

The hospital opened in November 1914 in North Tonawanda, founded by LeGrand S. DeGraff because of a need for hospital facilities in the growing region. According to the hospital, DeGraff and associates footed the entire $37,578 bill for the new facility. The hospital was named in memory of his father, James H. DeGraff.

According to hospital records, the first patient was a 1-year-old child treated for complications of eczema, a skin condition. The patient was released after one day; the total bill was $1.30.

The first baby born at the site didn’t come along until Jan. 4, 1915. The bill for that? A whopping $27.

Additions to the facility have taken place throughout the decades including 1930, 1944, 1953, 1956, 1964 and 1977. In 1998, DeGraff became part of Kaleida Health, making it part of the largest health-care system in Western New York. 

Organizers are planning a commemorative book marking the anniversary, as well as events related to the occasion, Gentner said. Dates have not been set yet, but the planning committee hopes to partner with community events to get the word out.

“We’re working on some various celebrations throughout the year to invite our community in to see where we’ve come from,” she said. “Anything we can do to get that 100th year out there.”

TO HELP Those with photos, memorabilia or stories from throughout DeGraff Memorial Hospital's 100-year history should contact senior marketing associate Phyllis Gentner at 690-2005 or pgentner@kaleidahealth.org. Items should be submitted by Jan. 30.