Charlevoix Hospital Celebrates a Century of Caring


Charlevoix Hospital Celebrates a Century of Caring

Munson Healthcare Charlevoix Hospital celebrates 100 Years of Caring for its community in 2019.

Historical photo of Charlevoix Hospital

The hospital’s humble roots go back to incorporation on March 4, 1919. The hospital board purchased a home on the corner of Hurlbut and Grant streets to renovate and on May 5, 1920, the facility opened with 22 beds, an operating room, and an obstetrics unit. Longtime community physician Robert Bruce Armstrong, MD, was named manager of the facility.

Exterior of Charlevox Hospital today The hospital added an east wing a few years later but leadership soon realized the need for more space to house a growing number of healthcare services needed by the community. The hospital purchased the city’s former tourist park for $1 and after an extensive fundraising effort opened at the corner of Park Avenue and Lakeshore Drive in August 1954. Renovations and additions over the years continued to keep the facility up-to-date and ensure access to care for area residents and visitors.

The hospital has played a key role in the health of the community and a supporting role in history as well. Among more noted events associated with the hospital were the first airplane flight to Beaver Island on Feb. 7, 1923. A U.S. Army captain and airplane from Selfridge Field near Detroit flew Dr. Armstrong to the island to care for a 15-year-old boy who suffered a serious head injury during a logging operation. The hospital also cared for the only two survivors of the 35-man crew of the SS Carl Bradley that sank 40 miles offshore on Nov. 19, 1958, in a storm with 60 mph winds and 30-foot waves.

The hospital board approved full integration with Munson Healthcare on Sept. 22, 2015. Munson Healthcare Charlevoix Hospital was named a Top 100 Rural Hospital in the U.S. in February 2017.

100 Years of Caring

Recalling Robert Bruce Armstrong, M.D.

He helped pioneer medical care through the air to Beaver Island, testified at the “trial of the century,” and often accepted chicken, eggs, and other farm products as payment for his doctoring services. 

Robert Bruce Armstrong, M.D., was quite a man. And when Charlevoix needed a hospital, he became an advocate. At its opening on May 5, 1920, he served as its first administrator. Read the full story. 

F.F. McMillan, MD: Caring Through the Storms of Life

He arrived in Charlevoix in 1919 to build a medical practice as a new hospital prepared to open its doors. 

And despite personal challenges and tragedies, F.F. McMillan, M.D., made his mark as a caring and tireless physician who touched many lives – not the least a grandson who also spent his medical career serving the people of the region.

Dr. McMillan along with pioneer physician and Charlevoix Memorial Hospital’s first administrator Robert Bruce Armstrong, M.D., and a decade later noted physician Gilbert “Gib” Saltonstall, provided a foundation for home-town care that continues today. Dr. McMillan also was instrumental in helping convince the community of the need to build a new hospital on the lakeshore – though he died in 1948 before the current hospital was built. Read the full story.

Dr. Gilbert Saltonstall Brought Modern Medicine to Charlevoix

Dr. Gilbert “Gib” Saltonstall’s legacy in Charlevoix continues today through babies he helped bring into the world and uncommon surgical skills that allowed many patients to turn another page in life.

The physician’s 43-year career would bridge the pioneer era of medicine in Charlevoix that focused on house calls, and patients swapping labor, chickens, or other goods for his skills, to one that involved the technology of X-rays, antibiotics, blood transfusions, to the even more modern times of health insurance and the headaches of high medical liability insurance premiums. Read the full story.

Granting 100 Wellness Wishes

As part of year-long events and celebrations, the hospital granted 100 Wellness Wishes for the community throughout the year. 

"About 70 wishes have been granted so far," said Julie Voci, of Charlevoix Hospital Wellness Workshop. The wishes have ranged from seeking wellness advice from Munson Healthcare experts to looking to have a warm meal at the hospital cafeteria.

“It’s amazing how excited people get. We have had a really good turn-out,” Julie said. “A couple of people who have met with our dietician here and taken our plant-based food classes because they’ve gotten really inspired and have chosen to use that as a stepping stone to making changes. Our social worker has also worked with people on end-of-life and will planning.” Read about Michele, a resident of Charlevoix, who has been working with the Charlevoix Hospital Wellness Workshop to create and follow a customized exercise plan.

Thank you for participating in helping us celebrate by granting 100 wellness wishes! Thank you to everyone who helped fulfill the wishes and participated in some way, including Bay Street Orthopaedics, Beaver Island Rural Health CenterBoyne Area Health Center, Boyne Rehab Center, Charlevoix Behavioral Health, Charlevoix Primary Care, Charlevoix SurgeonsCharlevoix Wellness WorkshopCharlevoix Women's Health, and Jordan Valley Rehab Center.



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