Donald A. McGregor, M.D.



(excerpt from McGregor's biography by his daughter, Wanda McGregor Snow)

There were three practical nurses that Father worked with during his early practice in St.George, Nellie Herradence, Emma Squires, who took sick cases into her home and nursed them until they were well, and Ida Misha Seegmiller. Mrs. Seegmiller worked mostly with obstettic cases. Father, as their doctor, would give the mother her monthly examinations and any pre-natal care she needed and then deliver the child in the home. Here Mrs. Seegmiller would assist him and then afterward she would stay for a week or whatever time was necessary, until the mother was able to take care of the baby herself.

Father always hoped that the day would come when he could take care of the women in a hospital under far more favorable conditions.

His practice flurished rapidly but he was discouraged with having to do many operations on kitchen tables in dimly lighted rooms and with untrained help or no help at all. He could see that here as it had been in Beaver, the lack of a hospital was hampering his efforts to give the people of Washington County the best medical care. So he purchased a large house that had been used for a rooming house and a hotel. The building is just south of where the Mountain Bell Telephone Building now stands, on the corner of Tabernacle and First East street. It now is a rest home for Senior Citizens. He raised the money by selling shares in the company and gave the hospital the name of "Washington County Hospital". This was in 1913 and as the years went by he finally owned all the stock. It was then that he changed the name to "The McGregor Hospital".

Immediately upon buying this building, the doctor moved his office and laboratory work into the north west corner of the building. He put in an operating room and a sterilization room for his instruments. With Mrs. Herradence as his nurse, he opened a two bed hospital. The only hospital south of Salt Lake City since there was now no hospital in Beaver.

Mary Whitehurst had been taking nurses training in Salt Lake City and as soon as she had her R.N. degree she came to replace Mrs. Herradence who was not acredited, as head nurse. Mary was given the large bedroom and bath on the south east corner of the building to be her home as long as she stayed with the hospital.

They soon found out that the St. George water was too alkaline to use for sterilizing their instruments. This was before the water was piped from Pine Valley. So Mary and Father used to travel regularly to Middleton, a small hamlet just three miles east of St. George where there was a fresh spring on the Mickelson property. Here they would fill containers with the good spring water and carry it back for their use in sterilizing their instruments. This they did in a heavy aluminum pressure cooker that could hold two-quart jars which Father had purchased from a man for $30.00. This was all they had until sometime later when they purchased some modern sterilization equipment.

Father continually made improvements and purchased new equipment as fast as he could afford to do so. Being a very progressive man he always desired to give his clientele the very best of service, and in order to do that he had to have the very best of equipment to work with. So it wasn't very long until he was able to purchase an X-ray machine. It was the best X-ray machine south of Salt Lake City, and was so fine a machine that it was the only one of its kind this side of Chicago. This proved to be an excellent asset to his work.

He equipped rooms and added service continually. As the hospital grew his staff grew also. Mary Truman was hired as a housekeeper and cook but she, on occasions, cared for patients, especially the babies. Others followed her but I have not been able to find their names.

There were quite a few practical nurses and registered nurses throughout the years. Two of the practical nurses who worked there for a long time, were Katie Jones Augusson and Fern Jackson. Some of the registered nurses were: Mary Alice Glenn, Edna Sorenson, Lynnette Ingraham, Marie DeJohn, Berneice Hodges, Edda Larson and Olive Whipple.

As for the doctors who worked with Father in St. George, Dr. Frank J. Woodbury had been the one who had influenced Father's move to Southern Utah's Dixie. They were very close to each other and worked well together, although Dr. Woodbury did not live long. He died of cancer in the early part of 1920. After Uncle Frank's death Father took care of the medical and surgical needs of Washington County without help, working far harder and far longer than he should have done.

In a letter written in 1931, he mentions a Dr. Miller who was a young man just out of school who had come to St. George to assist him for a short time that winter. He also tells of what a relief it was to have some one to take part of the load from his shoulders.

Dr. Milo Moody came for three or four years, and left in the spring of 1936 because my two brothers, Alpine Watson and Lorenzo Watson who were cum laude graduates of Baltimore School of Medicine at Baltimore, Maryland, were finishing up their internship at California Lutherian Hospital in Los Angeles, and were coming back to St.George to practice with their father. Dr. Moody felt there was not room for so many doctors in the town and decided to build a practice closer to Salt Lake City. He was a fine doctor and they had a very good relationship during the time they worked together.

Every since he had begun the hospital he had hoped that someway he could afford an elevator so that they wouldn't have to carry patients down the long narrow stairs from the operating room on the top floor to the ground floor. Each year when he was in any large city he would always shop for an elevator, but would find them too expensive. Finally in 1931 he found one in Salt Lake City and it was installed in the hospital.