Celebrating Milford’s past with an eye on the future


Bayhealth Milford Memorial begins its final year of operations with the start of 2018. The new Bayhealth Hospital, Sussex Campus will soon replace the aging Clarke Avenue facility. As we look at the history of Milford Memorial Hospital, we are reminded that over the past century the basic needs of our community remain the same — quality healthcare, closer to home. As we move forward, we also remember the past.

In the early 1900s people living in southern Delaware realized a need for better healthcare. As the daughter-in-law of a Milford doctor, Mary Louise Donnell Marshall noticed patients were dying due to a lack of care. Patients who needed surgery were often sent to Wilmington and Philadelphia on cots placed in baggage cars on trains. Many of them didn’t survive the journey.

In 1907, Mary Marshall and friends began raising money for a local hospital. On April 12, 1909, the new hospital received its first patient, but soon problems forced the emergency hospital to close.

During the 1912–13 session of the General Assembly of Delaware, a bill authorized the establishment of a 12-bed emergency hospital in downtown Milford. Mary Marshall’s sons, Dr. S.M.D. “Sam” Marshall and Dr. William “Wid” Marshall, Jr., provided care at the new facility on 110 N.W. Front Street.

Early records show Milford Emergency Hospital doubled the number of patients it treated in just one year. But World War I led to another closing, as both Marshall brothers were called to war.

While they were gone, Dr. Frank Grier assisted in raising funds for the hospital. On July 1, 1921, Milford Emergency Hospital reopened. According to records, hospital charges were $5 per day for a private room and $10 for an operating room.

In 1925, the Milford Emergency Hospital School of Nursing officially opened. Classes were held in the hospital after a full day of work on the floor. The nursing school later moved next door to the Grier Building, named after Dr. G. Layton Grier. It closed in 1976 — just one year after its 50th anniversary celebration.

Present-day Milford Memorial Hospital opened in 1938 as a 100-bed general hospital. The original building entrance is still visible from Clarke Avenue.

Various additions to the hospital have taken place over the past few decades. In 1950, the Milford Memorial Hospital Board of Directors voted to build a four-story addition. In the 1960s, a new $3 million wing was added. Another major expansion took place in 1985, as the $6 million Burton-Fischer wing was built.

In 1997, Milford Memorial Hospital merged with Kent General Hospital, becoming Bayhealth. Discussions began about building a replacement hospital facility in southern Delaware. Nearly 20 years later, those talks have turned into reality.

Bayhealth recognizes healthcare has evolved dramatically since the hospital was originally designed and constructed, and it continues to evolve. Changes include an overall trend toward outpatient services, greater emphasis on patient privacy, more complex medical equipment, participation by families in caring for patients, and greater need for enhanced staff efficiency and workflow design. These are the changes driving the overall design of the new Bayhealth Hospital, Sussex Campus. As we look back at what we have achieved, we look forward to building an even brighter future together.

Throughout 2018, Bayhealth will celebrate the impact that Bayhealth Milford Memorial has had on the southern Delaware community. Visit ImagineDE.com to learn about events and the latest happenings on the Bayhealth Sussex Campus.

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