McCready Health can trace its roots as a healthcare provider back to the early 20th century. Its founding is a bittersweet story of gratitude that emerged from a terrible tragedy.
Edward W. McCready, who lived in Chicago where he worked in his family’s cork business, was visiting relatives in his native Crisfield. Suzanne, his 8-year-old daughter, accompanied him. Soon, however, the start of the new school year beckoned. So, the McCreadys and the young girl’s nurse, Henrietta Steinbach, embarked on the long drive home in a Pathfinder sedan.
Just before 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13, 1919, their vehicle collided with a train near Westover, about 13 miles east of Crisfield. Both adults died at the scene. Rescuers tried valiantly to rush Suzanne back to the General and Marine Hospital in downtown Crisfield for treatment, but the child succumbed to her injuries along the way.
As was the custom of the day, head nurse Florence Webb Smith arranged for the bodies to lie in repose at the hospital awaiting the arrival of Caroline Pitkin McCready. When the heartbroken mother and wife reached Crisfield, she reportedly asked: “How much?” was due in payment to the hospital.
Head Nurse Smith reportedly replied, “You have no bill from us. We are very sorry we could not have done more for you.” But, Mrs. McCready insisted, saying, “You and the people of Crisfield will be paid.”
Edward W. McCready Memorial Hospital – a grieving widow’s $200,000 gift to Crisfield – was dedicated May 6, 1923. Hundreds of people turned out that Sunday – on what would have been Edward McCready’s 63rd birthday – to hear speeches and watch civic leaders unveil brass plaques commemorating the three who died.
Built on a small peninsula that was a McCready family homestead known as “Cork Point” and flanked by Daugherty’s Creek Canal and “Hospital Cove,” its nearly three-dozen beds made McCready Memorial among Delmarva’s largest hospitals at the time.
It featured a school that trained nurses, some of whom lived on the upper floor of the original building. (The nursing school closed in 1929.)
Our volunteer program was launched in 1946 by Kathleen Maddox, RN, with the establishment of McCready’s Volunteer program.
In 1963, Margaret Wilson of Crisfield High School added the Future Nurses Club, a program to help students learn whether nursing might be an interesting career option.
Changes and Improvements
As the needs of the area grew and technology improved, McCready Memorial underwent changes and improvements. A small addition was added to the original structure in 1961.
By the mid-1960s, McCready’s administration and governing board saw a need to provide skilled nursing care for the community’s elderly. A 69-bed nursing home, dedicated in memory of Alice Byrd Tawes, the beloved mother of late Maryland Gov. J. Millard Tawes, opened in 1968. It put McCready Memorial in rare company: only a handful of nursing homes in the region were (and remain) affiliated directly with a hospital.
During the 1970s it became apparent the original hospital had outlived its usefulness. A $3.9 million replacement was built and opened in 1980. The original hospital building became home to administrative offices. Access to the building expanded from land and water to include a helipad.
In the early 21st century, McCready’s leadership determined it was time to replace the nursing home. A four-story building – the Alice B. Tawes Nursing & Rehabilitation Center – opened in 2010. The $12.5 million structure is home to a 76-bed, skilled nursing facility. The capital campaign was headed by Jay Tawes – great-grandson of the nursing home’s namesake – and then-McCready board chair Arnold Torres.
The top floor is home to a 30-unit assisted living apartment facility known as Chesapeake Cove. “The Cove,” as it is called, is home to a warm and caring community of people with varying needs of care and a common desire to live their lives to the fullest. Named for the waterfront views on all sides of the building, Chesapeake Cove provides a daily link to the beauty of the region.
The Launch of McCready Health
In 2015, the leadership again took a bold step, reorganizing all of the facilities under a single brand – McCready Health – designed to reflect its commitment to lifelong health and wellness. Its mission, values and vision were rewritten to reflect the changes in the organization and the world around it, and its slogan, “With you … for life!” was introduced to highlight its commitment to patients and the community throughout the circle of life.