FALL BACK INTO HISTORY: Park View Hospital: A Look at the Nurses Who Made a Difference in the Community

park view hospital nurses in rocky mount nc history

Some residents in Rocky Mount have clear memories of nurses crossing the street from the Park View School of Nursing to take their shifts at Park View Hospital. They had crisp, white uniforms, starched caps, and blue capes. Rocky Mount resident Patty Collins remembers it well. In an article published in the Rocky Mount Telegram, she said their dignity and grace inspired her to become a nurse as well. 

The nurses of Park View Hospital shared more than a mission; they established a bond with each other as they honored their calling to care for the sick and wounded.

Park View Hospital was once located near the Braswell Memorial Library. It opened in 1914 and closed in 1971 with the opening of Nash General Hospital. When Park View Hospital opened, it had 25 beds, and by the time it closed, it had increased its capacity to 145 beds. At one point, it was the largest hospital in Rocky Mount. 

The Park View School of Nursing—which was located across the street from the hospital-- was established in 1914 and its first graduating class was in 1917. Its nurses were recognized as some of the best and most well-trained in the state. 

Students at Park View School of Nursing got a lot of hands-on experience by helping and working at Park View Hospital during their coursework. By the time that the hospital closed in 1971, the nursing school had graduated 55 classes of nurses, with nurses and physicians from the hospital teaching most of their courses

Nursing alumnae will tell you of a time when students, who lived in dormitories across the street, had to follow strict rules. They were expected to exhibit the epitome of proper manners, observe curfew, and maintain an orderly environment.  Students had to work 12 hours a day, every day and were still expected to make, mend and repair their own uniforms. 

Nursing was a different world back then, and students and nurses saw history unfold before their eyes. They aided the community during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, and many were called to serve their country in the military, treating wounded American soldiers during three wars. They were commissioned as second lieutenants and saved thousands of lives at home and abroad. 

Fast forward almost six decades, and you’ll find that while the nursing school and hospital are no longer in existence, the memory and legacy of these stellar caregivers lives on. 

Through the generosity of these nurses and the community, they’ve helped another generation of nurses get the education needed to care for patients. The nurses established the Park View Nurses Alumnae Association Scholarship Endowment, which is given to one or more nursing students at Nash Community College.

Nash Community College also named a wing in honor of the nurses: The Park View Sciences Hall. Visitors can see mementos on display, from nursing caps and uniforms to nursing pins that were a symbol of excellence and honor. 

The legacy of the Park View Hospital nurses continues to be remembered by the people whose lives they have touched and the community they have enriched.

Want to know more? There are several wonderful pictures of the hospital that can be found through the North Carolina Digital Archives

Photo credit: NC Digital Archives

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