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On May 22, 1942, a Certificate of Incorporation was approved by the State of Maryland creating the Suburban Hospital Association, Inc., an organization of citizens dedicated to providing a hospital for the Bethesda area. Ground was broken for the construction of a new hospital on April 6, 1943. The first patient was admitted in December 1943.
On April 21, 1943, Mrs. Walter E. Perry, then chairman of the Women’s Activities Committee of the Board of Trustees of the Suburban Hospital Association, received authorization from the Board for the formation of the Women’s Auxiliary of Suburban Hospital. The Women’s Auxiliary adopted bylaws and elected its first officers on April 24, 1944 to become a permanent organization.
The Auxiliary Special Gifts Committee solicited money and services from area clubs, businesses and community citizens for necessary equipment for decorating the patient rooms. With cooperation from local sewing groups, this committee made draperies and slipcovers for hospital rooms.
The nurse’s home, then called McKinley Hall, was similarly decorated. Meetings were held in the living room of McKinley Hall located at the corner of McKinley Street and Old Georgetown Road. The Grounds Committee encouraged community garden clubs to donate plants and furnish fresh flowers for the hospital.
The Auxiliary has always combined jobs of service and fund raising. In the very early years, the Auxiliary established service areas and recruited volunteers on committees for social services, a patient library, decorating, pictures, hospitality and grounds. Through the cooperation of the Red Cross, Red Cross Gray Ladies were admitted in 1951 to serve at Suburban Hospital. The Red Cross nurses’ aides performed volunteer duties.
With two other local agencies, the Auxiliary helped establish a thrift shop in Bethesda in October 1943. Later three other organizations joined them. The Thrift Shop has continued to be a major source of revenue for the Auxiliary.
A gift shop was opened in 1948. The gift shop provided another source of revenue for the Auxiliary. It was a great convenience for patients, personnel and visitors. Television and radios were made available to patients through the gift shop in 1950. The gift shop is no longer connected to the Auxiliary.
A snack bar was operated by the Auxiliary for 10 years. It was located in the B Wing when it was completed in 1956. It was closed in December 1966 when a canteen was opened by the hospital in the newly completed C Wing.
The Junior Volunteer Corps was organized by the Auxiliary in March 1944. In the beginning, only young women aged 15 to 18 were trained to perform small tasks. Later, young men were accepted as well. This program is now part of the general volunteer program under the Volunteer Office.
In 1950−1951, the Auxiliary became a member of the Montgomery County Federation of Women’s Clubs (Class C). During that time, the Auxiliary also became affiliated with the American Hospital Association and also Maryland Association of Hospital Auxiliaries in 1951.
In the 1980s, the Auxiliary funded the construction of Auxiliary House on the corner of Southwick Drive and Old Georgetown Road. It replaced McKinley Hall and is now an assisted living facility.