Weeks Medical Center History
For more than 100 years, Weeks Medical Center has provided critical medical services to the Coös (NH) and Essex (VT) county communities it serves. Residents and seasonal visitors from Whitefield, Dalton, Jefferson, Lancaster, Groveton, Stark, Stratford in New Hampshire and Guildhall, Lunenburg, Maidstone in Vermont, are secure in the knowledge that excellent medical care is nearby. Hikers, skiers, and snowmobilers, visitors to the Mountain View Grand and Mount Washington hotels, motels, campgrounds, and local attractions such as Santa’s Village, have also benefited from the medical services available at Weeks Medical Center.
Since 1913, there has been a designated hospital in Lancaster. Dr. Homer B. Smith established a clinic in a home on Main Street between the P. J. Noyes Building and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. The second floor of the elm-tree shaded white frame structure had a laboratory, a 10-bed ward, rooms for maternity, surgery, and sterilizing equipment, as well as a kitchen, laundry, dining, and sleeping rooms for nurses and other employees. Dr. Smith’s office and living rooms were located on the ground floor.
In 1919, the community-based Lancaster Hospital Association formed and was supported by community funds and private donations. From then until 1947, the Lancaster Hospital provided patient care to the community. After the death of Beatrice Dowse Weeks in July 1945, her husband, Massachusetts senator Sinclair Weeks and his six children, Frances W. Hallowell, John W. Weeks, Martha W. Sherrill, Sinclair Weeks Jr, William D. Weeks, and Beatrice W. Bast, built a new hospital for the area in her memory. Beatrice D. Weeks Memorial Hospital opened in December 1947 designed by well-known Boston architect William Perry of Perry, Shaw and Hepburn. Members of the communities of Lancaster, Groveton, Guildhall, Northumberland, Percy, and Stark joined with family and friends of Beatrice Weeks to outfit the hospital’s patient service areas, laboratories, wards, operating rooms, maternity areas, kitchen and dining room, and staff facilities.
Over time, the needs of the community required expansion to continue to provide the highest quality medical care. In 1958, James L. Dow, owner of P. J. Noyes Co., and the community added the Dow Wing to the north of the original building. The 10-bed Weeks-Crawford Skilled Nursing Facility opened in 1968, named for Jane T. Weeks, second wife of Sinclair Weeks, and Frederick Erastus Crawford of Guildhall, father of Frederick C. Crawford, president of TRW, Inc. It was the only Medicare-approved skilled nursing facility in Coös County at the time. In 1970 and 1989, renovations provided space for x-ray technology, physical and occupational therapy, and emergency admissions. The non-denominational Busi Chapel, near the Beatrice D. Weeks Room, was added in 1990 to provide a space for comfort and reflection for families of patients. Weeks Medical Center was formed in 1993 by the Lancaster Hospital Association and the Regional Medical Professional Association, a local physicians practice. The ongoing need for improved patient services required renovations and a new covered entrance to Weeks Medical Center in 2000.
Since its inception, Weeks Medical Center has continued to grow its services and patent access to primary and emergency care. Today it encompasses not only the Beatrice D. Weeks Memorial Hospital in Lancaster, but also a variety of patient care sites throughout the upper Connecticut River Valley watershed. These include the four physicians offices in Lancaster, Whitefield, Groveton, and North Stratford. As part of the North Country Healthcare affiliation, Weeks Medical Center’s patients also have access to allied services at Androscoggin Valley Hospital (Berlin) and Upper Connecticut River Valley Hospital (Colebrook) and North Country Home Health and Hospice. Scheduled to open in 2019, the new Lancaster Patient Care Center will continue the high quality community medical care begun 100 years after the Community Hospital opened on Main Street in 1919.