As the community continued to grow, so did RMH. In 1950, RMH built a $1 million three-story addition that added 114 patient rooms, a modernized maternity department and two fully equipped delivery rooms. This brought the total number of beds to 266, with 80 more beds added in 1958.16
There were separate departments for surgical patients and medical patients, ensuring appropriately focused care for each.
This addition to RMH was the largest and most complete, with its modern array of up-to-date equipment and consistently excellent service provided by the nurses and doctors.
According to the Daily News-Record, the patient rooms had "all the comforts of home, together with the latest in medical equipment for the relief of the suffering and the relaxation of the convalescing."
Private rooms featured private toilets, a small lavatory and a closet, as well as an intercom, which permitted patients to talk to the nurses at the floor nurses' desk. The familiar "call buttons" provided a means to signal the nurse in case of special need or an emergency. For the first time there was a telephone jack in the patient room so that patient could call family or friends using one of the six phones that could be carried into the room.
The ground floor of the 1950 addition had a kitchen area and a special diet preparatory kitchen, which allowed doctors to prescribe specifically tailored meals for patients who had special dietary needs.
The first RMH pathologist, Dr. Lawrence John Motyca, came to RMH from Norfolk General Hospital. His arrival, along with a new laboratory funded by a generous donation from Merck & Company, helped ensure faster turnaround of test results. As "the doctor the patient never sees," Dr. Motyca offered the hospital a wider scope of testing and immediacy of treatment. His lab assistant was Miss Johnson.
The specialized equipment purchased for the building, beyond the medical equipment built into the structure, such as oxygen sources for patient rooms and specialized lighting for surgical rooms, cost more than $115,000. This included the cost of equipping the new laboratory with the technology required by the first pathologist at RMH, Dr. Lawrence J. Motyca. Having an on-campus pathologist eliminated the need for sending samples out to labs at other hospitals in the state. Instead of having to wait days for lab results, RMH doctors could have tissue analysis or test results in a matter of hours or even less. This reduced the critical time necessary to make a correct diagnosis for patients and to begin prompt treatment, which sometimes meant the difference between life and death.
RMH administrator C. Tiffany Loftus, in his 1951 administrative report, described the establishment of the laboratory and the hiring of Dr. Motyca as a great step forward because modern medicine depended a great deal on the "doctor the patient never sees.
To ensure that RMH continued to be a modern, up-to-date hospital offering the best in healthcare, the administration worked hard to continually make improvements to the hospital throughout the 1950s. A well-equipped pharmacy was established to store and dispense medicine, and the first pharmacy director, Miss Helen Christian, was hired in 1956. She was responsible for purchasing pharmaceutical supplies, as well as storing and issuing all drugs. Previously, a nurse assigned to the storage room had been assigned to correctly measure dosages, and the floor nurses then administered the medicine to patients. The pharmacist took over these duties from the nurses, enabling the nurses to devote more time to patient care.
Additional departments were established to take over jobs that were not directly concerned with patient care but had been done previously by the floor and operating room nurses. The Central Sterile Department sterilized instruments and reusable equipment, and a coordinated Supply Department began purchasing supplies and distributing them throughout the hospital. These new departments freed the nurses from many of their responsibilities that were not directly related to patient care.
As the director of nursing, Miss Reilly understood that such changes were necessary in a modern hospital. She stated that "Nurses had to be relieved of all those non-nursing jobs as nursing care became more specialized."
Miss Reilly also understood that the millions of returning service men and women had become used to a certain quality of medical care during their time in uniform. When they returned home, they expected a similar degree of medical care from their local hospital. Under Miss Reilly's direction, the Rockingham Memorial Hospital Nursing School achieved accreditation by the National League of Nursing. RMH's nursing program was one of the first hospitals in the state to receive this acknowledgment of excellence.19
The expansion of health care was making new demands on the educational needs of the nursing staff. In November 1959, a new building for the School of Nursing - which became known as the Wine-Price Building - was opened.20
The new School of Nursing represented a milestone in RMH's continuing efforts to attract qualified students. The new facility, which housed 100 students, opened its doors in 1959. Participating in groundbreaking ceremonies are J. Nelson Liskey, Hospital Administrator; E. Virginia Reilly, Director of Nurses; E.C. Wine, President, RMH Board of Trustees; Dr. G. Tyler Miller, President, Madison College (now James Madison University); and C. Grattan Price, Secretary-Treasurer, RMH Board of Trustees.
Even though modernization of the facility, medical practice and nursing care continued to advance at RMH throughout the 1950s, the hospital still retained some small town touches. Miss Reilly recalled that in 1952, after taking over as administrator from Mr. Loftus, Nelson Liskey would often pick up staff pay checks and deliver them in person to those on the day shift.