As the planned demolition of the Matty Hersee Hospital/School of Nursing building became publicly known this week, one group of individuals not only expressed shock and disappoint, but also some confusion.
"They announced at our reunion they were going to do something with the building ... They even had an architect there with a (architectural) drawing," said Pamela Stockman McPhearson, who was among the last class to graduate from the prestigious nursing school. In 2011, McPhearson, who now resides in Alabama, and fellow graduate Darlene Dearman Winham, who now resides in Tennessee, organized a 25-year-reunion of the closing of the historical nursing school.
"There's so much history there," Winham said. "The building's architect is unique. And there's the sentimental value – not only to those of us who went to school there but also those who worked there when it was a hospital."
Having been given the go-ahead by the Mississippi Board of Archives and History, Meridian Community College plans to demolish the building to provide for the future expansion of what MCC President Dr. Scott Elliott called “a landlocked campus.”
History of MHSN
Originally located at 2314 Poplar Springs Drive, Matty Hersee Hospital was organized in 1892 by a group of civic minded ladies led by Matty Hersee Wright.
A new building was constructed in 1923, after the hospital was commissioned as one of a group of state-owned charity hospitals. At that time, Matty Hersee was placed under the jurisdiction of the Board of Trustees of State Eleemosynary institutions and, upon its closing in 1986, it was one of three such hospitals.
The first record of students is a diploma issued to Ada Boone on June 8, 1913, as a graduate of the Matty Hersee Hospital Training School for Nurses. This original diploma, on loan from Boone's grandchildren, was displayed in the entrance hall of the Matty Hersee School of Nursing until its closing.
No records are available between 1913-1919. It is uncertain at what time the name change to Matty Hersee Hospital School of Nursing. Some transcripts and records are available from 1920-53. The school closed in 1953, however, Carolyn Evans McMinn was instrumental in reopening it and served as director from 1956 to 1957. The school was under the direction of Jamie McKinnon from 1957-1960, and Emily McDonald, from 1960-1965. During this time, the nursing program was 36 months.
Under the direction of Myrtle M. Estes, R.N., M.R..N., from 1965-1979, the school has complete records on all students entering and graduating. During Estes tenure, the nursing school was changed to a 33-month program and a modern, two-story dormitory – named after Estes – was constructed adjacent to the hospital. The dormitory began housing students in 1975. Estes retired in 1979 as director emeritus.
In 1977, Matty Hersee School of Nursing became a separate entity from the hospital when the school's administrative offices relocated from the second floor of the hospital, to the first floor of the dormitory.
From July 1979 until the school's closing in July 1986, Jerry Pittman R.N., M.S.N., served as director. Under Pittman's leadership, the school enlarged its physical plant to include a fully equipped skills laboratory, added classrooms, recreational areas, a library with a full-time librarian and purchased modern teaching equipment. In addition, the school upgraded its organizational structure and curriculum to meet standards for state and national accreditation. Each faculty member held a master's degree.
Matty Hersee School of Nursing continually provided an educationally sound program for the preparation of registered nurses to function in acute, intermediate and long-term care facilities. From 1959 to February 1986, the school had 475 graduates, with 454 of those passing the state board licensure examination for registered nurses – a 95.6 percent passing rate. In May 1986, 32 students graduated from the nursing school.
In 1984, the Matty Hersee School of Nursing received notification from the state of Mississippi that the school would be placed in a two-year phase-out status, with no state appropriated money after June 30, 1986. The school closed its doors on June 30 of that year.
Hindered new era