WESTFIELD – Baystate Noble Hospital celebrated its 125th anniversary with a party for employees, past and present. Staff party planners greeted guests in poodle skirts, in homage to the coffee shop off the lobby which opened in the 50’s, and reopened for the last time on Wednesday. It will now be turned into an easy access lab. Old photos adorned the walls, and copies of the defunct Noble Digest replaced magazines on tables in the lobby.
From 2 to 3 p.m., hot vintage hors d’oeuvres were served to leadership and employees with 25 years of service at the community hospital; 50 in all. Human Resources manager Travis Taigen opened a short program, thanking Nicole Fairlie, Laurie Gilbert and Maura Tobias on the event committee. He said for him, 125 years of caring meant 125 years of lives saved, 125 years of families comforted in dark moments, and 125 years of careers shown on the walls.
Taigen introduced Baystate Noble president Ronald Bryant, saying if he hadn’t taken a chance eight years ago, he didn’t know whether the celebration would have happened. He also pointed to the new lobby as an indication of the turnaround for the hospital.
“The last eight years have been the best years of my professional career,” Bryant responded, while acknowledging that the first five were a bit of a rollercoaster.
Bryant said Reuben Noble, who lived in Westfield, suffered an accident in 1890 and from that realized that what he wanted was a local health center. In 1893 Noble endowed the hospital in his will with the conditions that it would be run by a nine-member board, all from Westfield, and that it would provide care to all, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.
Bryant called Noble a successful businessman who gave the authority to the trustees to keep health care local. He said Noble knew things would change, being in the Whip business; and Baystate Noble is keeping that legacy alive, through all the changes in technology and in medicine. “You guys have been fantastic in my eight years here,” Bryant said to the staff.
Nancy Shendell-Falik, president of Baystate Medical Center congratulated “all of you who help to keep this legacy alive.” She said it’s been three years and three months since Noble became Baystate Noble. “We’re proud of that partnership,” Shendell-Falik said, adding, “We are all here cheering for the next 125 years.”
Before presenting a citation from the Senate, Senator Donald F. Humason, Jr. said it was always a pleasure for him to come to the hospital. “51 years ago, I was born here,” he explained, adding, “This is a caring place where people want to come to get their health care locally.”
Legislative aide Emily Swanson said she was there on behalf of Rep. John Velis, who is in the fourth month of a six month deployment to Afghanistan. “We’re so lucky to have a community hospital,” Swanson said, and presented a citation from the House of Representatives, signed by Speaker Robert DeLeo and Velis.
Mayor Brian P. Sullivan said he is the envy of mayors across the Commonwealth who would love to have a community hospital. “Westfield is extremely proud of Baystate Noble,” the Mayor said.
Chief Administration and Chief Nursing Officer Michele Urban said that hospital employees in each department got together to select old and new items for the time capsule which will be buried in honor of the anniversary. She described the team photos, medical supplies, souvenirs from events, written reports and a September copy of The Westfield News with a story about the hospital, all slated to go into the capsule.
The program ended with a video by Laurie Gilbert of vintage photos set to oldies tunes, before the rest of the employees were invited to join them for an ice cream social served from the old coffee shop.