Haverhill Councilors Eyeing Donations to Former City Hospital for Health Spending

The then-privately owned Hale Hospital on Buttonwoods Avenue, about 1906.

The public has opportunities to shape policy this week as various Haverhill boards meet. In the interest of transparency in government, WHAV provides this list of upcoming meetings every week.

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

Two city councilors want to know if there is any money in an old city hospital trust fund that can help pay for healthcare-related programs—particularly in light of today’s COVID-19 pandemic.

Council Vice President Colin F. LePage and Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien say the money would have been left as donations to the former city-owned Hale Hospital. O’Brien told WHAV the money is similar to the Elmo D’Alessandro 1996 Trust that has paid for a police fleet maintenance garage and police station roof work.

“We know the funds are there because we see them every year at budget time. There always at the end of the budget these things that have been left to the city like the money that was left and they used by the police department,” she said.

The Hale Hospital began as a private institution in 1886, paid for by a $50,000 bequest from Ezekiel James Madison Hale. Additional private donations allowed the hospital to expand and relocate to Buttonwoods Avenue in 1901, but it became a victim of the great depression. The legislature allowed the city to acquire Hale Hospital in 1931.

Haverhill also operated its own “City Infirmary” by 1904, which later became the Albert W. Glynn Memorial Nursing Home. In 1916 the Gen. Stephen Henry Gale Hospital opened and was also donated to the city. The Hale and Glynn were either closed or sold by 2001.

LePage and O’Brien both say they have seen references over the years to health care donations that have been left in wills to the city, but have been stymied by possible restrictions on how the money may be spent. O’Brien says, for example, previous attempts to use donations to pay down the hospital’s debt have not been allowed.

“It’s figuring out how we can access it and use it the way it was it was left to us, and that’s where it has always been a problem,” O’Brien explained.

The Haverhill City Council meets remotely tomorrow night at 7 p.m. As a public service, 97.9 WHAV FM plans to carry the meeting live.

In other public meetings this week:

Wednesday, April 22

Haverhill School Committee Finance Subcommittee, headed by School Committee member Paul A. Magliocchetti, meets remotely Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. The Committee is discussing the school budget for the year that begins July 1.

Merrimack Valley Planning Commission discusses proposed transportation improvements when it meets remotely Wednesday, from noon-1:30 p.m.

Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control and Wetlands Management District Board of Commissioners meets remotely Wednesday, 3 p.m., to conduct labor negotiations.

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