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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Govar Hospital: Hardy's first hospital

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The home of Phillip and Kristina Horrell on Spring Street in Hardy, housed Hardy's first hospital from 1937 until about 1943. Photos by Tammy Curtis
It is no secret that a lot of history is housed in Hardy, Ark. This is evident by the large number of homes on the National Historic Register. Many do not know that the first hospital in the area was housed in Hardy.

The Hardy Hospital was opened in 1937 and named after the doctor who operated it, Dr. Govar, and locally called Govar Hospital.

After Dr. Govar left Hardy, the home was sold to Charles Horrell Sr. then Charles Horrell Jr. Today, Horrell's son Phillip and his wife Kristina live in the home.

An instrument case used at the Govar Hospital given to Dr. and Mrs. Audrey Thompson by Govar's grandson bearing the name of the Hardy Hospital.
According to Kristina, who has obtained a lot of information about her home from her husband who learned about the home from his father and grandfather, there were five to seven patient rooms upstairs.

"You can still see the numbers through the paint," she said.

The current living room of the home used to be a surgical room and still has the textured glass windows that would have prevented someone from seeing the person being operated on.

There is also a room that was split into smaller rooms which housed the X-ray portion of the hospital. Kristina said it is unclear what the downstairs of the house was used for, but some thought it might have been rented out or was, perhaps, a place for nurses to stay. This portion of the house is now closed off from the upstairs.

Dr. Govar's grandson made a trip back to Hardy several years ago and gave local historian Dr. Audrey Thompson numerous books and documents from his grandfather's hospital which was operational from 1937 through about 1943.

Included in the documents were a record book used to post patients who came to be treated and information regarding the date and what type of medications were used in their treatment. Another book contained recommended dosages of various medications as well as courses of treatment. Thompson said, that although it had been misplaced over the years, there was also a book that contained the prices charged for Dr. Govar's services.

By thumbing through Dr. Govar's records, one could easily feel transported back in time when morphine was, by far, the most common medicine given to patients. The normal dose was between one quarter and one half a gram.

Thompson said that during this time, many doctors still made home visits, making this hospital unique because it was one of the first in which people could be treated and stay overnight or long enough to heal.

Little is known about Dr. Govar or where he was from or where he went after closing the hospital, but he left his mark on history in Hardy by creating the first hospital in the area.

The hospital was very modern for that era and Thompson said it even included indoor plumbing and plank hardwood flooring.

Kristina said her husband Phillip's grandfather said that the labor to build the hospital was provided by persons who owed the doctor money and were willing to barter their services to satisfy their debts.

Records from the hospital show that the amounts for treatment ranged from 50 cents to $2. An overnight stay, medicine and even surgery would cost between $2 and $10. These prices are obviously a far cry from today's escalating medical costs.

Although it is unclear why Govar closed the hospital, Thompson said that at that time a lot of people traded things and it is possible that he was just owed too much money and moved on.

The historic home, which used to be Govar's Hospital, is located at the top of Spring Street in Hardy and looks much the same from the outside as it did nearly 72 years ago when the hospital was operational.

Prior to Thompson's accident he was in the process of getting the Govar Hospital on the National Historic Register as he has many of the other homes in Hardy.

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