Eastern Shore Hospital Center celebrates centennial

MD-Eastern Shore Hospital centennial

Dorchester Banner/Gloria Rojas
A ribbon cutting and blessing of a Patient Serenity Garden and Labyrinth was the highlight of a centennial celebration marking 100 years of the Eastern Shore Hospital Center in Cambridge.

CAMBRIDGE — On June 10, a ribbon cutting and blessing of a Patient Serenity Garden and Labyrinth was the highlight of a centennial celebration marking 100 years of the Eastern Shore Hospital Center in Cambridge.

The Labyrinth is not the frightening maze of Greek myth where the Minotaur wreaked havoc on sacrificial victims. It’s the exact opposite! A peaceful place, the stone circle called a labyrinth is a connection to earth, a metaphor for a journey, a place to walk quietly in thought.

The surrounding garden has several stone seats for quiet reflection. It honors volunteers, auxiliary members and veterans. Also acknowledged in the dedication ceremony were Dr. Harold English and Dr. Kenneth Jones, two directors who led the hospital in the last century and helped initiate and implement the great changes that came to the hospitals for the mentally ill.

The greatest change is the end to what was called “warehousing the mentally ill.” Once hospitalized, few patients had any chance of returning to life outside the institution, which at times held more than 600 people at its former location, the site of the present Hyatt. The move to Woods Road coincided with the new approach of preparing patients for independent life outside the hospital. It now houses only 60 or so patients.

Edward Cornish, a staff member, explained some of the changes that reduced the stigma of mental illness: the introduction of silverware for dining instead of just a spoon, patient selection of clothing to reduce the institutional mold, availability to modern technology and the encouragement to visit and eventually move out and be a part of the community.

This Centennial Celebration was also the birthday party of a 100-year-old, Mrs. Marguerite Hastings, the daughter of our own Dr. Kenneth B. Jones who was the Superintendent of the ESHC from 1937-1940. So there was music by a chorus of staff and patients, and there had to be birthday cake, chocolate and lemon Smith Island Cakes.

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