Ask Liz: Look­ing back at Levi Hos­pi­tal

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Front Page -

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.

Story by El­iz­a­beth Rob­bins

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,...

Pho­tog­ra­phy cour­tesy of the Gar­land County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety

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.

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