Mercer Hospital

Medical / New Jersey

Mercer Hospital is an abandoned medical center in central New Jersey. It was first constructed in 1895 and was fully closed in late-2011.


History

Julia Scudder, who had taken care of her mother and sister through their final months, met with Dr S.T. Lowrie and the Reverend John Hall, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, to establish a hospital for Trenton. 6 The Trenton Hospital was organised on November 19, 4 but the movement ended in a consensus that adequate funding could not be secured for such as facility. Scudder persisted and met with Dr William Elmer and Dr W.W.I. Phillips, the physicians that attended her mother and sister. They encouraged her to begin fundraising.

Scudder’s nephew, Harvey Edward Fisk, 6 pledged $500 and offered to pay for the services of the architect, A.E. Barlow. Fisk convinced his three brothers to each contribute $500. His mother, H.E. Fisk, donated land on Bellevue and Rutherford avenues for the new hospital in February 1892. 4 6

By January 1893, nearly $15,000 had been subscribed towards a building. 4

The new Mercer Hospital opened on March 20, 1895. 4 The three-story building included a reception area, dining and meeting rooms on the first floor, five patient rooms and a children’s ward on the second floor, and three wards, with 25 beds and six cribs, on the third floor. 6 A house on Rutherford Avenue, conveyed to the hospital by Fisk, was remodelled to serve as a home for nurses and to serve as a laundry building. 4

A two-year nursing program was begun in September6 The program was expanded in 1898, and in 1901, the course was extended into a three-year program.

Growth

A three-story, 100-bed addition and a laundry building, completed at the cost of $325,000, opened on October 3, 1902. 4 In 1909, William J. Morris, thankful for the treatment he had earlier received at the hospital, funded at his own cost a two-story brick addition that provided space for an X-ray department. In 1913, the third floor of the administration building was converted into a maternity ward, which was followed by the purchase of another house for nurses on Rutherford Avenue. 4 6

Another expansion, funded partly by Board president William S. Hancock, opened in the spring of 1914, increasing the capacity of the hospital to 170 beds and providing room for Ophthalmology, Pathology, and Electrotherapy departments6. A new children’s ward and a nurses’ residence expansion followed in 1916.

The new developments were designed to relieve overcrowding at Mercer Hospital. Admittance had greatly increased from 173 patients in 1895 to 189 in 1908 and 2,020 by 1914. 6

A power plant, central heating facility and laundry building were added in 1922. 4 In 1925, James Dayton, the son of the hospital’s first president, donated $100,000 towards the construction of a maternity building. 6 Ultimately, more than $573,000 was raised towards the effort and the 74-bed Dayton Memorial Maternity Building opened in 1926, followed by a new 60-bed nurses’ residence.

Mercer Hospital was chronically overcrowded during and after World War II. The Maternity Building was expanded and renovated in 1959, followed by the expansion of patient facilities in 1961 to accommodate 330 beds. 6 An eight-bed intensive care unit was added in 1963, followed by a five-bed coronary care unit. An eight-story patient tower was completed in 1969. 8

To reflect its comprehensive services, Mercer Hospital was renamed to the Mercer Medical Center in 1973. 6

The new $12.7 million Mercer Professional Center, which included physician offices and HMO facilities, opened in 1976. It was followed by a four-story, $14 million addition to provide needed space for the maternity, emergency, clinic, and outpatient service departments in 1990.

The Mercer Medical Center and Helene Fuld Medical Center merged in August 1996 to form Capital Health System. 7

Closure

Capital Health System announced its proposal to close Mercer Hospital and construct a new acute care facility in Hopewell Township in January 2005 in a bid to create a better payer mix of more affluent, insured patients. 1 2 5 The company also sought to consolidate operations with its Regional Medical Center (formerly Helene Fuld). Capital Health pledged to keep the emergency room and Family Health Center for prenatal and pediatric health open at Mercer Hospital. 5

Mercer Hospital, except for the emergency room and Family Health Center, closed in November 2011 when the new Hopewell Township hospital opened. 1

Capital Health sold the former Mercer Hospital complex to Global Life Enterprises for $500,000 in August 2013. 3 Global Life proposed redeveloping the 650,000 square-foot space into a health and wellness complex containing room for medical offices, laboratories, holistic clinics, and hospice care. Global Life was unable to secure funding for its project.

On December 13, the emergency room at Mercer closed over a lack of patients. The centre was seeing as few as 12 patients per day, many of whom were not in need of emergency care.


Sources

  1. Pizzi, Jenna. “Capital Health sells Mercer Campus hospital in Trenton to company that plans health, wellness plaza.” Times of Trenton, 5 Sept. 2013.
  2. Pizzi, Jenna. “Capital Health to close emergency room at old Mercer Hospital in Trenton.” Times of Trenton, 13 Dec. 2013.
  3. Foster, David. “Trenton seeks new developer at former Capital Health hospital campus.” Trentonian [Trenton], 7 Mar. 2017.
  4. Schuyler, Hamilton. “Charitable Institutions, Public Welfare and Social Agencies.” A History of Trenton, Trenton Historical Society, 1929.
  5. “CHS MERCER CAMPUS REUSE PLAN.” Bellevue Rutherford Neighborhood Plan, 2009 Dec. Article.
  6. “History of CHS – Mercer Campus.” Capital Health System. Article.
  7. “Two proud histories – one bright future.” Capital Health System. Article.
  8. “Mercer Medical Center.” Emporis. Article.