Fayette County’s physicians a century ago grappled daily with diseases virtually unknown to millennials—diseases such as diphtheria, scarlet fever, measles, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, tetanus, and whooping cough. No less were they challenged to deal with all of the other serious illnesses that still confront medical professionals today.
The county’s contingent of medical doctors 100 years ago included G. W. Blakeley; Roy E. Brown; A. O. Ervin; G. W. Holdren; R. M. Hughey; Frank E. Hyer; W. E. Ireland; Grant Marchant; L. M. McFadden; David H. Rowe; and Edwin F. Todhunter.
Another local physician and surgeon of a century past was Dr. George S. Hodson, born and raised in Highland County. After graduating from the Pulte Medical College in Cincinnati, Dr. Hodson moved to Washington C. H. in 1894 and began practicing medicine. He came here with his wife Fannie Johnson Hodson and their son Edmond, age 4. The family took up residence at 418 E. Market Street.
In 1902, Dr. Hodson relocated his medical practice from the Worthington block on North Main Street to the first floor of a two-story wooden duplex he had purchased on East Market Street. The house stood on what is now the parking lot adjacent to John Wead’s law office.
Four years later, in December 1906, the Hodsons moved into the new home they had built at the northwest corner of Market and North streets. (The house is still there.)
Dr. Hodson was highly respected for his honesty, genial nature, and magnetic personality. He was a forward-looking physician who, nearly every year, spent a couple of weeks away from his practice seeking additional medical training at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., or at hospitals in Chicago and New York City.
On Nov. 6, 1910, Edmond Johnson Hodson, age 20, and the only child of Dr. and Mrs. Hodson, died of meningitis at the Market Street residence. By all accounts he was a personable, well-liked fellow. Edmond Hodson was a graduate of the Miami Military Institute at Germantown, Ohio, and at the time of his passing, he had completed his freshman year of study at Ohio Wesleyan University. In the summer of 1910, he had worked at Jess Smith’s dry goods store on North Main Street.
In 1911, to honor the memory of their son, the Hodsons established the Edmond Johnson Hodson Memorial Hospital in the large double-house where Dr. Hodson had his office. It was Fayette County’s first hospital.
The 12-bed hospital was furnished with the best equipment available entirely at the Hodsons’ expense, but it was in no sense a private hospital since all Fayette County physicians were encouraged to use it. There was a maternity ward on the ground floor; the patients’ rooms were on the second floor. Snow-white walls and woodwork gave the building’s interior an immaculate, reassuring appearance. One local newspaper reported that visitors to the hospital were most impressed by its “beautiful cleanliness.”
On the second floor at the rear of the building was an operating room that measured approximately 20 feet by 25 feet. White mosaic tile covered the floor. Light from large windows and a skylight brightened the operating room during the day. Electric lights lit the room at night. Above the operating table was a tin globe made to Dr. Hodson’s specifications at Johnny Wilson’s tin shop located at the northwest corner of Court and Hinde streets. Six electric light bulbs inside the globe illuminated the operating table.
Dr. George S. Hodson died suddenly in April 1928 at the age of 61. Shortly thereafter, Mrs. Hodson gave the hospital’s equipment to the Methodist Episcopal Hospital at Pikeville, Ky.
Fayette County’s physicians of the early 20th century would marvel today at The Ohio State University’s medical complex and all of the sophisticated procedures and treatments provided there. They would have been pleased when the Fayette County Memorial Hospital opened in May 1950.