Here are three articles written on the history of The Osteopathic Hospital of Maine.



June 1, 1984

Enclosed you will find an article that was written by Phil Johnson about OHM for the American Osteopathic Hospital Association's 50th Anniversary.

The article has been sent to the AOHA, along with photos depicting the various stages of development of OHM, and will be part of a slide presentation at the AOHA Annual Meeting in October. The article may also appear in the special Anniversary Issue of OH Magazine, which will be published to coincide with the Annual Meeting.

In the mid 30's, as in many other communities in the eastern United States, a group of osteopathic physicians in Portland, Maine tackled the challenge of purchasing a facility to which they could admit their patients for hospital care.

In Portland, Louise M. Jones, D.O. was the secretary of an organization of eleven osteopathic physicians who were incorporated under Maine law on July 10, 1935 "as proprietors of an educational, charitable and benevolent association to be known as The Osteopathic Hospital of Maine, Inc...." In Dr. Jones' minutes of the monthly meetings of those original OHM trustees runs an account of problems and solutions which in many instances parallel the account of discussions and decisions of today's Board of Trustees for Maine's largest osteopathic hospital.

The founders of the institution at Portland included Doctors Mason H. Allen, Addie K. Butts, Harry H. Campbell, Mary Warren Day, Ruth E. Emery, Anna Louise Hicks, Louise M. Jones, Myron G. Ladd, Everett S. Winslow, Granville C. Shibles and Leo C. Lemieux. It is regrettable for this account that none of these men or women have survived to provide their recollections of those early challenges. It is the record of their meetings which provides the basis for this account of progress in a difficult time.

The Osteopathic Hospital of Maine of the mid-30's was a 16-bed rambling residence renovated earlier into a physician's office. It was in a neighborhood of middle-income homes bordering schools and churches in Portland's Deering section.

Among the early concerns reflected in the minutes of the Board's meetings were the dual needs to provide an organizational structure and improve the facility. Early tasks of the House Committee included obtaining estimates on the cost of an elevator installation and reviewing bids for interior and exterior painting. The Building Committee was directed to explore the requirements for acquisition and installation of x-ray equipment. And the Personnel Committee encountered some difficult circumstances when at one meeting a majority of the physician- trustees attending demanded the dismissal of the Head Nurse. That directive was subsequently rescinded at the next meeting, however, when other physician-trustees attending insisted on reconsideration of the Chief Surgeon's comments.

It was nearly three years after the physicians incorporated that amendments to the Corporate By-laws created the post of "Director." In the Rules and Regulations, adopted July 6, 1938 by the Board of Trustees, the duties of the Director included:

Control of all admissions…

Control of all activities of the hospital of a professional nature…

Responsibility for all employees of the hospital…

Responsibility for the House Physician and the Interns in cooperation with the Chief of Staff.

The Director, therefore, served as the Liaison Officer between the Board of Trustees and the Hospital Staff and was accountable to the Board of Trustees for the efficient operation of the hospital and all departments.

During the period from 1937 through 1939, the fledgling hospital Board wrestled with the need for capital, the planned expansion of the facility, the recruitment of professional staff and the acquisition of specialized equipment.

In its second year of operation, the hospital's trustees requested that a notice be posted in the "surgeon's room" asserting that “15% of all major surgical fees be returned to the Treasurer of the Corporation.” In 1937 when the Personnel Committee reported its success in acquiring x-ray services, it was voted that "the proposition of Dr. M. Carman Pettapiece (who only retired from practice in 1983) as to x-ray be accepted, with the hospital purchasing equipment and furnishing all supplies on a 50/50 basis of the gross revenue." OHM's first x- ray examination was performed on October 7, 1937 using a wet film processing machine located in a closet. Dr. Pettapiece also doubled as an anesthesiologist, surgical assistant, typist and orderly.

Also early in the hospital's development, the Board accepted the proposition and acquired the services for a laboratory and dietary kitchen."

One of the physicians was named to the post of Director and at the Board's Annual Meeting in 1937 the Trustees were presented with and approved a variety of fiscal arrangements including:

"25% of fees for laboratory work actually done shall go to the technician doing the work, 25% of such fees for actual laboratory work done shall go to the head of the laboratory and the balance of all laboratory fees collected shall go to the hospital."

The Physician-Director also acquired approval for assigning medical departmental staffing responsibilities by the following titles: Senior surgeon/Chief of staff, Chief of rectal, Chief of obstetrics and gynecology, Chief of radiology and diagnostic, Chief of orthopedics, Chief internist (he was also the Director) and Chief of osteopathic staff.

Among other business conducted at the 1937 Annual Meeting was a motion which created the formation of a "lay board of the hospital..."

Subsequent meetings recorded the acceptance of various businessmen in the area as lay members of the Board, and in the minutes of the 1938 meeting there is an amendment which reads: "two-thirds of the entire Board of Directors be comprised of the original trustees for ten (10) years at least." That amendment must have dimmed in the recollection of those who governed because by 1947 the Corporation of The Osteopathic Hospital of Maine, Inc. elected a Board of Trustees comprised entirely of "laymen.”

Also, by that time the original building had been sold and the entire endeavor moved to a larger (32 beds) and more accessible location where OHM remains today. Early on the Founders recognized the need for growth and expansion. Only 5 years after the incorporation and acquisition of the original hospital building, the OHM Corporation voted "to purchase real estate located at 335 Brighton Avenue in Portland, Maine and in the rear thereof, on which is located the hospital and the out buildings known as Dr. C. P. Wescott Sanitorium, for the sum of thirty thousand dollars…”

To accomplish the purchase, the group deeded the original building on Pleasant Avenue to the Wescott family, put up $15,000 cash and carried a second mortgage of $2,500 on the land and buildings at the new location. With this early venture began a growth pattern which has included renovation and new construction in 1946, 1952, 1956, 1961, 1963, 1976 and plans are again “on the drawing board.”

Between 1938 and 1940 other recorded items of interest included: the institution of a $60 flat rate for OB cases; a $1500 expenditure to outfit the operating room; acceptance of a contract for services to patients under Blue Cross; a report that the City of Portland had agreed that the hospital would be considered "tax free"; physician recruitment in the form of a surgeon to whom the hospital would pay $500 in cash and $500 to be paid within a year; and the signing of contracts with the two young men that would signal the beginning of a growing Internship Program.

The momentum had begun and although the decades to follow were marked by crises and challenges--some of which tested the hospital's solidarity--the foundation for the growth of an institution and a profession was firmly established.

Today the Osteopathic Hospital of Maine (OHM) is a 160-bed, fully accredited acute care teaching hospital offering a complete range of medical and surgical services for both inpatients and outpatients. OHM is also the largest of three osteopathic hospitals in the State of Maine.

The OHM Medical Staff now includes more than 80 osteopathic family physicians and specialists; over 700 employees staff the clinical and support services; 23 members of the business and professional communities of Greater Portland serve as Trustees, and more than 100 auxilians and volunteers annually contribute their time to the hospital. Adult and pediatric care in 1983 totaled 40,991 days and gross revenues amounted to $25,549,526.00.

OHM is one of two medical teaching hospitals in the State of Maine. Associated with all 16 schools of osteopathic medicine located throughout the country including the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, Maine's only medical school, OHM is currently providing educational training for 10 interns and 12 residents in a variety of specialty areas. Medical school students or "externs" also come to OHM for 2 to 8 week training periods. In addition to medical students, OHM also offers training for nursing students, nurse assistants, respiratory therapists, radiology techs and physical and occupational therapists. In total, over 500 students train at OHM annually. The vitality associated with the teaching/ learning experience contributes significantly to the active professional environment at OHM.

Next year OHM will be celebrating its own 50th Anniversary. Like the AOHA, the Osteopathic Hospital of Maine has grown dramatically from those early days. Though tomorrow is sure to bring other challenges, the osteopathic profession, with the support of its national organizations and network of hospitals, will continue to offer something very special-something more ...

Philip N. Johnson, Consultant Osteopathic Hospital of Maine, Inc.


In July1935, a group of Osteopathic Physicians incorporated as the Osteopathic 
Hospital of Maine, and in September 1937 the first Osteopathic Hospital of Maine 
was opened.

A large house at 166 Pleasant Avenue in Portland was purchased; after complete 
renovation, it provided twenty-four beds and six bassinettes. By 1940, this dwelling 
was completely outgrown.

The present property at 335 Brighton Avenue consisted of a large frame house 
and barn on five and one-quarter acres of land; it was owned by Dr. Wescott and 
operated as a nervous and mental sanitarium. It was offered for sale for sixty
thousand dollars which at the time looked like a tremendous undertaking to the 
six osteopathic physicians who purchased it and signed a note. It was a gamble -
and they won; but it could have very easily turned into failure. The building was
completely renovated and the barn converted into offices. 

By 1946, the property was paid for and was turned over to a lay Board of Trustees. 

In 1950, new brick construction was started; this was continued periodically 
until the advent of the present building, with 140 beds. 

By 1971, every department needed enlarging and there was a demand for at least 
fifty more beds; therefore, construction was again initiated. 

With the completion of the new addition in 1976, there were expanded 
facilities and capabilities in the areas of Pathology, Laboratory, Xray, Emergency 
Room, Outpatient, food handling, including new cafeteria, Maintenance, Administrative 
Offices, in-house education offices, pharmacy and personnel. The remodeling of SCU/ICU 
provided space for a visitors' lounge and classroom which also serves as a nurses'
lounge. Two new patient care units were also added in the new wing, increasing our 
capacity to 160 beds.


The Osteopathic Hospital of Maine, a non-profit general hospital, had its beginnings on Pleasant Avenue in 1937. A move
was made to its present site in 1940: a frame dwelling which contained 28 patient beds and supportive ancillary services
which provided care to approximately 900 patients a year.

This can be compared to the present, when we have 72 Osteopathic Physicians on the attending staff and a hospital facility
that served 6012 admitted patients, 35,715 out-patients, and 12,864 emergency patients n 1975.

Back in 1940, the X-ray Depart. was housed in a seperate building, formely a carriage house, which also contained the
Medical Records Department and Administrative offices. There were 28 physicians on the staff, and it was considered by many
to be a 'private' hospital operated by and for the physicians; but the excellence of the care provided by the physicians and
employees soon convinced many that it was, in fact, a community general hospital, and further expansion was indicated as

In 1951, a three-story building was built to contain an X-Ray Department, Laboratory, and 16 semi-private rooms.

In 1956, a four story wing containing space for expanded X-ray, a new heating plant, new kitchen and dining room, new
Obstetrical Department, new Surgical Suite and additional semi-private rooms, was built, and about one-third of the
original fame building was demolished.

In 1963, a two-story wing containing a Depart. of Rehabilitation, Auditorium, and additional bed capacity brought the
hospital to 136 beds.

It soon became apparent that the high occupancy rate would cause a major deterioration of service in the 1970's unless
something was done. Therefore, after many months and literally years of planning and frustrations, the addition we see
today was started in 1972. It is interesting to note that it was made possible by public subscription and a bond issue,
with no Government funds being provided.

As the Osteopathic Hospital of Maine serves as an Osteopathic Medical Center for Maine and is one of only two teaching
hospitals in the state, and the only Osteopathic teaching hospital, a great many of the practicing Osteopathic Physicians
in Maine received all or part of their training as Interns or Residents at this institution. The continuing flow of
graduate physicians from this hospital provides health care in many of the surrounding communities which formely had no
local physicians.