History 101

A look back at our beginnings

The following article was taken from the September 2010 issue of The Pulse.

In order to know where you’re headed, you sometimes have to revisit where you’ve been.

Cape Cod Healthcare is rooted in a strong history of dedication, clinical service and philanthropy. The three anchor organizations – Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod, Falmouth Hospital and Cape Cod Hospital – each have rich traditions separately, but share the same legacy of service while providing the best medical care available to Cape Codders.

This month, we offer a photographic trip down memory lane, highlighting the evolution of each organization over the years.

VNA of Cape Cod

Cape Cod Healthcare’s most senior member is the Visiting Nurse Association of Upper Cape Cod, which dates to 1916. Originally envisioned by the members of the Woods Hole Women’s Club as a public nurs- ing service, its first nurse was Elizabeth Eliot-Smith. She served all who needed her and made her rounds, initially, on a borrowed bicycle. Today’s Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod is a direct descendent of this original organization.

  1. 1916, Elizabeth Eliot-Smith. Central Cape Cod also had a skilled nurse visiting homes.
  2. Later a second hand Ford (with hand crank) was purchased for the nurse’s use.
  3. In 1921 the VNA relocated from their original 1918 location on Main Street to a new health center on Locust Street.
  4. They grew and expanded over the years and by the 1960’s had grown to a nursing staff of five.
  5. By 1996 the various VNA’s merged and by 1997 they joined the CCHC family and became known as the VNA of Cape Cod. Today their headquarters is located in Hyannis.
  6. The VNA nurses provide passionate care to patients and continue to expand over the bridges.

Cape Cod Hospital

Next came Cape Cod Hospital, started by Charles Lincoln Ayling, who launched a campaign for a Hyannis hospital after seeing badly injured soldiers traveling on a train for treatment to Boston in 1919.

Ayling and seven board members of the Hyannis Board of Trade put up $35,000 to purchase Dr. Edward Francis Gleason’s summer home and it was there that they established Cape Cod Hospital. The first patient was admitted in 1920.

Dr. George H. Gray came in May 1921 as chief surgeon. Dr. Ferdinand A. Binford made himself available in the “accident room” 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A major new expansion in 1950 resulted in the tearing down of the original building, and the hospital has been expanding ever since.

  1. The original 1919 summer residence of Dr. Edward Francis Gleason.
  2. In 1924 the first addition was built, the Ayling Wing, bringing the hospital to 45 beds.
  3. After WW II, construction began on a major expansion.
  4. When completed in 1950, the original building (Dr. Gleason’s summer home) was torn down. The hospital then had 105 beds.
  5. In 1963 the South Wing addition was completed.
  6. The 1976 addition changed the main entrance to the west side of the hospital.
  7. 1976 new Emergency Center.
  8. O’Keeffe Surgical Pavilion and Medical Oncology were added in 1997.
  9. The last expansion took place in 2007 with the Mugar building. 120 new beds and a materials management facility were added.
  10. Most recently, in 2010, the hospital underwent a renovation of the main lobby.
  11. Also in 2010, the main entrance was renovated.

Falmouth Hospital

Dr. Langdon Burwell was one of the first proponents of a hospital in Falmouth. In 1956, a $50,000 gift from the Lilly Foundation got the ball rolling, and fund-raising began in earnest in 1957. Over the next six years, more than 2,600 donors contributed nearly $1 million. DeWitt Ter Heun donated a wooded site on the hill, and federal funds brought in enough money to start the hospital project in 1961.

The 53,600-sqaure-foot Falmouth Hospital opened on May 28, 1963 with a 24-hour emergency room and 58 beds. There were 33 nurses and 22 attending physicians, including Dr. Edwin Tripp, the first president of the medical staff.

Falmouth Hospital has expanded several times over the past 50 years.

  1. Dr. Langdon Burwell.
  2. 1961, hospital construction is underway at the property donated by Dewitt Ter Heun.
  3. Construction was completed in May of 1963, with 58 beds.
  4. In the early 1980’s top floors were added increasing the hospital to 83 beds.
  5. In the mid 1990’s the Faxon Center was added, Outpatient and Maternity Center.
  6. The last expansion took place in 2005 with the Medical Offie Building (MOB).
  7. Future plans see the completion of the Clark Cancer Center in early 2011.

Find a Physician

More than 450 physicians and specialists delivering exceptional and compassionate care.


Cape Cod Healthcare has been named one of the nation's top 15 health systems by Truven Health Analytics.
Cape Cod Healthcare named one of the Top 15 Health Systems in the nation.
two new facilities under
construction that will enhance
patient access to vital services.
More than 36 million
Americans have seasonal
allergy problems.
Now open for Radiation
Therapy Program at
Falmouth Hospital

Contact Us

Cape Cod Hospital
27 Park Street
Hyannis MA 02601
Phone: 508-771-1800

Falmouth Hospital
100 Ter Heun Drive
Falmouth, MA 02540
Phone: 508-548-5300