When St. Helena Parish Hospital opened its doors in Greensburg, LA on August 9th 1966, medical and hospital facilities with the parish were available to St. Helena’s 10,000 residents for the first time in history.
At the time of its dedication on August 7th, the hospital had 35 beds and was equipped with the latest equipment in its patient rooms, emergency room, operating room, labor room, delivery room, laboratory, X-Ray room, nursery, and kitchen. There were nine private and 13 semi-private rooms available for $20 and $15, respectively.
Authorized by a parish-wide bond election in 1962, the hospital was built with funds from the bond sales and Federal Assistance. Then hospital Administrator, W.K. Lea, said the cost of construction and equipment for the hospital was approaching one million dollars.
Operating policy for the hospital was set by a six-person Board of Commissioners, who is appointed by the parish Police Jury. During this time the Board of Commissioners was Henry B. Meyers, Chairman; Stanley Hornsby, vice-chairman; W.E. Dykes, secretary; Leonard Newman, treasurer; Leo Doughty, member and W.K. Lea, administrator.
The St. Helena Parish Police Jury, at this time, were Willie Newman, president; Felix Sharkey, vice-president; and members Cleon Hutchinson, Leroy Nesom, Horace Lee and Lester Hornsby.
Dr. Stringer, head of medical staff at the time the hospital opened, included general surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, orthopedists, and oral dental surgeons. Professional nursing care was available 24 hours a day.
Dr. Stringer came to Greensburg from the U.S. Naval Hospital in Pensacola, Fl where he completed his residence in general practice. He had a B.S. degree from Mississippi State University and a M.D. from the University of Mississippi. Dr. Stringer had extensive experience in urology, plastic surgery, anesthesia and ear, nose and throat cases.
W.K. Lea, hospital administrator at the time the facility was opened, was originally from Livingston. Lea came to Greensburg from Lutcher in St. James Parish where he was also a hospital administrator. A graduate of Doyle High in Livingston and became a registered X-Ray technician at Baton Rouge General Hospital.
The Co-Op, in support of this long needed facility, installed a 125 kilowatt emergency generator to supply vital electricity to all of the hospital in case of power failure. Unlike most emergency generators at the time, this gigantic generator would keep the entire hospital in operation in any situation.
For residents of St. Helena Parish at the time, medical services were now available within minutes rather than hours. Administrator Lea was quoted at the time saying, “The hospital is proud of its life saving role”.
On July 1st 1979, Dr. J.W. Varnado became the Resident Director with two staff doctors, himself and Dr. L.E. Stringer.