Phoebe makes history come to life

Joel Wernick, Phoebe President and CEO, cuts ribbon for opening of the Centennial Museum. / Jessica Fairley

After 100 years of service, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital has opened a Centennial museum to commemorate its history and medical advances through the years.

After a ribbon cutting, ceremony visitors were among the first to take a glimpse into the showcase located on the 2nd floor of Phoebe Medical Tower 1.

In the showcase, they found a room full of artifacts about the facility including a photo of the very first baby born at the hospital.

Mildred Ponder Bethea was born at the facility in 1913, two years after the hospice opened.

"I think the girls came today because I asked them to but when they stood and looked at their grandmother they were very glad they were here," said Beverly Bethea Olliff, the daughter of Mildred Bethea.

Olliff and one of her daughters were also born at Phoebe Putney.

Also in the museum is information on how the hospital helped polio victims. The Iron Lung was a tool used to help keep people suffering from polio alive.

"Well we don't see much polio anymore since the polio vaccine. Thank the Lord we don't have it anymore. We don't need the Iron Lung. The Iron Long was put in the basement. I was afraid that they didn't have it anymore but they kept it here," said retired Phoebe Dr. John Inman Jr.

In 1954 Dr. Inman delivered the baby of a woman who was confined to the Iron Lung after learning that she had polio. The mother died a few years later but the baby named Anna Jean lived a long life.

The Centennial Museum is now open to the public.

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