CLINTON — When talking about World War II and Clinton, the name Schick Hospital often surfaces.
The rows of large buildings located where the hospital was built, now commonly known as 2604 N. Fourth St., through recent decades has been known as the Job Corps and, later, Miller Ridge Apartments.
The story of Schick began in February 1942. The United States had been in World War II a little over two months, but the Medical Corps foresaw the need for a hospital located in the upper Midwest. It would served the training camps of nearby states and eventually, battle casualties.
Schick General Hospital was one of the 59 named general hospitals established in various sections of the country for the treatment of patients requiring special facilities and for those requiring prolonged hospitalization.
But a string of events had to happen in order for Clinton to become home to an army hospital. First, Clinton's 28-acre Root Memorial Park, in other articles named Shadduck Park, where the hospital would be located, had to be transferred to the United States of America and the government had to be given more land, to total 98 acres. Three hospital site entrances were paved and adequate supplies of water for hospital use and fire protection were provided.
All necessary gas and electric services were made available and $65,000 was placed in escrow to cover estimated costs of grading the site in preparation for erecting the hospital buildings, according to previous Clinton Herald articles.
According to the June 15, 1965 edition of the Clinton Herald, work on the 1,000-bed general hospital began May 8, 1942. The first patient was Pvt. John M. Jorgensen of Davenport, who was admitted March 2, 1943, after becoming ill while on furlough in Davenport.
"Ten days later, a special hospital train brought 52 patients to Clinton," the article states. "They were the predecessors of thousands who were brought here from the battlefields of the world."
The hospital complex occupied about 160 acres in the northern limits of the city of Clinton. There were accommodations for about 1,700 hospital patients and some 250 convalescent patients, with the complex growing to where at one point it had 3,600 patients. Most of them were Midwesterners who were battle casualties. They were brought to Clinton by the trainload.
According to an oral history at the Clinton County Historical Society, prisoners of war from Germany and Italy also were treated at the hospital.
The hospital was equipped with the most modern equipment for all types of diagnostic investigations, medical treatment and surgical operations. It was designed as a special hospital for neurosurgery, although all types of cases were admitted.
The medical staff was made up of physicians and surgeons specially selected for the definite type of treatment expected in a general hospital.
There were 72 wards and all the accessory buildings one would expect to serve an institution of this kind, such as quarters for officers and nurses and enlisted attendants and laundry mess halls.
How did the hospital get its name?
It was named for Lt. William Rhinehart Schick, Medical Corp., who was the first army medical officer to be killed in World War II. He was born Aug. 17, 1910, and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1939. He was appointed a first lieutenant in the Medical Corps Reserves on April 28, 1941.
He was killed when the bomber in which he was flying from the United States to Pearl Harbor was shot down during the raid on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Dedication of the hospital took place Oct. 7, 1943. Commanding officer was Col. Dean Winn, who had served 28 years as an army medical officer.
After the close of the war as the patient load diminished, the hospital was closed, Its staff members were scattered and the equipment was dismantled. The state of Iowa wanted to take it over but those efforts failed.
Clinton formed the United Veterans Hospital Organization, which obtained congressional legislation establishing the then-vacant army hospital as a veterans' domiciliary. It opened in 1948 and was closed in 1965 by action of the federal government.