Sunmount Veterans Administration Hospital for treatment of veterans with tuberculosis opened in Tupper Lake in 1924, following the huge upsurge of TB cases among veterans of World War I. Previously, many of them had been housed by contract with the Veterans Administration in private cure cottages in Saranac Lake.
Sunmount closed as a Veterans Administration TB Hospital in 1965, though it continues to operate today, providing services to people with developmental disabilities. Establishment of Sunmount was a big boost to the economy of Tupper Lake and a drain on Saranac Lake's cure industry, as many private cottages lost V. A. contracts to care for veterans.
It has been said that the Saranac Lake establishment fought to keep the hospital from locating here, claiming that the soldiers were a lower class of patient than the community was accustomed to hosting. It has also been said that, after Sunmount opened, the standard for accommodations in Saranac Lake was up-graded from two patients per room and porch, to private rooms and porches, to make up for the extra spaces available. Documentation has not been found for the second of these allegations, but a reference to the first is found below. 1
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 30, 1966
OUR MEDICAL TRADITION: PAST OR FUTURE?
Last night at the Hotel Saranac the great and moving medical tradition of Saranac Lake was evoked with pride, with humor and, as the Mexican folksong sang by Gloria Ayvazian and Joan Utterback put it, with a little sentiment, too.
It was compassionate medical care which created this village and brought it to international fame. The names of Trudeau, Brown, Gardner, Baldwin and many others would belong in medicine's hall of fame if one existed. Their fame rested on their contributions in research and in life-saving medical care, but also on the spirit of service which marked their careers.
The only blot on their medical escutcheon, rarely mentioned, was their successful lobbying efforts to prevent the construction in this village of the Sunmount Veterans Hospital because they did not want the "rabble" of the World War I veterans to disrupt the easy flow of life in this then successful health community. But that mistaken effort has long since been forgotten, even buried. [. . .] J.L. [Jim Loeb]
For the full text of the article above, see Saranac Lake Medical Society.
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