Ask Liz: Looking back at Levi Hospital
Levi Hospital was once described as the “hospital with a heart and soul.” A look at its history shows that it certainly deserves this title.
Levi was the vision of the Hot Springs chapter of the Jewish service organization B'nai B'rith. Soon after 1900, the Hot Springs B'nai B'rith (led by Rabbi R. L. Rosenthal) organized the Hot Springs Disbursement Committee to provide healthcare and housing for the needy who came to Hot Springs for medical treatment. By 1910, the International Order of B'nai B'rith was collecting funds to build a Hot Springs hospital devoted to the free medical treatment of the needy of all faiths. A Congressional bill granted Hot Springs National Park land for the hospital's use, and the 25 bed hospital opened in 1914. Thus, “A Century of Service” began.
Much of that service was instigated by Regina Kaplan, administrator from 1916 to 1951. Under her leadership, the hospital continually expanded its facilities and programs. In 1917, the hospital started a tuition- and housing-free nursing school that operated until 1952. In 1943, a physiotherapy department with therapeutic pools and tubs was added to the hospital, and in 1952, the hospital devoted itself exclusively to the treatment of arthritis. Levi soon became known as one of the top arthritis treatment centers in the country.
Levi gave special care to children suffering from arthritis. As part of that effort, in the early 1960s it created the Little Red Classroom, with Peggy Phillips
the first full-time teacher. Fully accredited, the school taught first through 12th grades to children sent to Levi for longterm treatment that sometimes lasted two to three years. In 1964, Levi changed its status from free hospitalization to nonprofit organization. In 1988, it began providing psychiatric care on an in-patient basis, and in 1989 it offered the first hospice care in the county.
Today it is licensed as an 81 bed surgery and general medical care hospital and offers outpatient physical rehabilitation (physical therapy, occupational therapy, and sports medicine). Its outpatient rehabilitation facilities include a 3,000-square-foot gym and a 50 by 20 foot pool filled with thermal waters from Hot Springs National Park — a treatment that is only found at Levi Hospital. In addition to its main facility at 300 Prospect Ave., Levi has a satellite outpatient rehab therapy clinic at the YMCA. Levi also provides an arthritis treatment clinic, osteoporosis testing and treatment, inpatient adult psychiatric services, and an outpatient psychiatric program. Its student athlete sports medicine outreach program provides area schools with a certified athletic trainer on the sidelines at practices and games.
Levi's development has been led since 1987 by president and CEO Pat McCabe, who has said that Levi will “always look at what is the best way to provide service to our community.” And, indeed, for 100 years Levi Hospital — the hospital with a heart and soul — has been serving community residents and visitors with generosity and outstanding care.
On opposite page: At top, Levi Hospital, below, 80-year-old and 4-year-old patients in 1951. Above, His mother and Administrator Regina Kaplan (right) watch arthritis patient Dickie Riedel take his first steps after his treatment at the Levi; below,...
Elizabeth Robbins and the staff of the Garland County Historical Society are ready to tackle your questions about Hot Springs' rich history each month. Just write Ask Liz at P.O. Box 580, Hot Springs, AR 71902, or email edi[email protected]springsonthego.com.