BUCKHANNON – They’ve both been a beacon of hope and a source of vital information — particularly over the past year – by providing invaluable medical treatment, services, instruction and guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And on Thursday, the Upshur County Commission commended St. Joseph’s Hospital and Dr. Joseph Reed on their commitment to the Buckhannon-Upshur community.
The commission approved two proclamations, the first congratulating the hospital on 100 years of service to the community, which will be marked officially on Sunday, March 28, 2021 – a century after the Pallottine Missionary Sister officially opened the once eight-bed hospital in Buckhannon. The second celebrated the accomplishments of Dr. Joseph Reed, the current medical office of Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department, who turned 86 years old on Friday, March 26.
Upshur County Administrator Carrie Wallace read aloud a proclamation declaring March 25, 2021 St. Joseph’s Hospital Day throughout the county and outlined a brief history of the hospital. It got its start when, in 1912, four devout Pallottine Missionary Sisters were inspired by the motto of the missionary’s founder St. Vincent Pallotti, ‘the love of Christ impels us,’ to leave their homes in Germany “for a life dedicated to serving those in need in rural West Virginia.”
In 1921, the Sisters purchased the Barlow Estate, which overlooked the city, and converted it into an eight-bed hospital and convent in which they lived. On March 28, 1921, they opened the hospital, which has over the past century “transformed from an eight-bed hospital to a 25 in-patient bed and 16 long-term bed hospital and multi-faceted medical community, serving the needs of residents of Buckhannon, Upshur County and all of central West Virginia.”
As the workplace of more than 400 people, the hospital is one of the largest employers in the Upshur and Buckhannon communities, and in 2020, medical staff there treated 2,500 people on an in-patient basis and 61,000 people on an outpatient basis. Nearly 300 babies were welcomed into the world at St. Joseph’s Hospital in 2020.
The document further noted that the hospital “has been integral in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in our region offering testing, treatment and vaccinations to our community.” Moreover, its holistic vision of health, wherein medical staff view health “as a whole-person issue involving an individual’s behavioral, emotional, physical, social and spiritual health” enables the hospital to maintain a “broad view of what impacts patient health, therefore rendering them with better health outcomes,” the proclamation said.
In 2015, in a step to shore up its long-term viability, the Pallottine Missionary Sisters transferred sponsorship of the hospital to United Hospital Center and WVU Medicine. The commission congratulated St. Joseph’s Hospital, a “fundamental pillar” of the Buckhannon and Upshur County community, on its centennial anniversary and approved the proclamation unanimously.
Skip Gjolberg, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s Hospital, said the hospital appreciated the acknowledgement.
“We really appreciate it. It’s been an honor for me to be here for the last five years, and for the hospital to be here for 100 years,” Gjolberg said. “If you think about the magnitude of that, providing health care to the people of Upshur County and the people of Buckhannon for that long and all that the sisters went through to do that … it’s just amazing. They used to grow their own food and raise chickens and pigs and all of that, and we really appreciate the honor and recognition.”
Commissioners also approved a proclamation expressing their gratitude on behalf of the community to Dr. Joseph Reed for his many decades of service and in recognition of his 86th birthday on Friday, March 26, 2021. Wallace said Dr. Reed was out of town for his birthday celebration but appreciated the gesture. Reed, who currently serves as the health officer of the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department, has delivered 2,762 babies since he began his career in 1966.
The proclamation listed Reed’s myriad roles in professional, civic and volunteer organizations and thanked him for his “unwavering leadership, guidance and support to the citizens of Upshur County during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“We encourage our citizens to express their appreciation to Dr. Reed for his unfailing commitment to our community,” the proclamation said.