Alameda Hospital Owes Existence to Female Founder Creedon

Sanitorium began operation in humble bayfront structures

Alameda Hospital Owes Existence to Female Founder Creedon

The famed playwright William Shakespeare and his wife, Ann, had three children. Their two youngest — Hannet and Judith — were twins.

In her novel Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell relates a story of Judith falling ill. She was with her brother at the time. Hamnet ran all over Stratford-upon-Avon looking for help. He stopped at the family doctor’s home to ask him to come to his ill sister. The housekeeper shooed him away. That was in the year 1580.

If someone fell ill in Alameda 300 years later, the same scenario would have played out. A friend of family member would have to go to the doctor’s home or office and ask the doctor to come and tend to the patient.

And just like in 1580, the family member could be a young man getting shooed away. There were no medical facilities in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1580 and none in Alameda in 1880. Horse-drawn carriages brought the sick directly to the doctor or the doctor would arrived in his good time in his carriage, on his bicycle or even on foot.

When the doctor did arrive, he would have to perform surgery in the home, often on the kitchen table. In 1894 that changed in Alameda.

Registered nurse Kate Creedon and her sisters stepped up and, with the help and encouragement of physicians in town they opened a sanitarium. There much-needed facility expanded from a single home to a larger facility that burgeoned into today’s Alameda Hospital.

The small facility that Kate and her sisters started as a six-bed facility at 2116 San Jose Ave. The sanitarium moved to its present location on Clinton Avenue onto a lot that Dr. Henry Pond and his wife Jessie purchased for the Creedon sisters in 1900.
The sanitarium’s first building on the new site was known as the Pond Building. The sanitarium’s name was changed to Alameda Hospital in 1939.

Dr. Henry May and Jessie Stella Penwell Pond were California natives. Jessie hailed from St. Helena. Henry and Jessie both graduated from Cal: Henry in 1876 and Jessie in 1879. Henry received his M.D. from Cal in 1880.

He and Jessie married that same year in San Francisco. They moved to Alameda where Henry set up a practice at 1424 Park St.

By 1903 the sanatorium was home to a nursing school. The first graduates, a class of five women, received their diplomas on June 5, 1905. The following year six nurses received their diplomas, One of the graduates, Annie Mitchell, entertained all present, including Kate Creedon by reading a poem entitled “On the fads and foibles of Alameda physicians.”

The City of Alameda’s Health Care District’s website explains that by 1924, state regulations necessitated the construction of a modern fireproof building. “This endeavor exceeded Kate Creedon’s financial resources. So, a decision was made to finance construction by selling shares of ownership to interested individuals, the website explains.

In August of 1924, groundbreaking on this new building began with Kate Creedon turning the first shovel. By October of 1925, the city of Alameda celebrated its 110-bed modern.

This new building sprang up on the facility’s present-day site. “As progressive then as it is now, this 110-room facility was the first hospital in the West to be completely wired for electricity,” the website tells us. The building was also home to the first elevators on the island of Alameda.

Following the sudden death of Kate Creedon from pneumonia in 1927, Alameda Hospital faced the loss of its pioneering leader and, like many hospitals in the country, faced the financial pressures of the Great Depression.

Despite several reorganizations and numerous attempts to turn the hospital’s financial status around, steps to institute foreclosure and sell the hospital properties began in 1939.

Fortunately, a group of prospective buyers comprised of businessmen and physicians successfully bid on the facilities and the Hospital doors remained open.

Courtesy    Alameda Hospital as it appeared in the 1930s. Note that it sat on the shoreline prior to 1950s-era landfill.