Chilton Hospital History Explained by Founder’s Grandson|
Chilton Hospital has many documents and photos to chronicle its history. However, none of them convey its heritage more vividly than Dr. Chilton's grandson, Col. Forrest Chilton, IV, who has a treasure trove of stories about his beloved "granddaddy" and his unwavering desire for a hometown hospital.
According to Col. Chilton, the hospital's founding physician grew up in a small, rural town in upstate New York before moving to Brooklyn, where he drove taxis and assumed various other jobs to get himself through medical school. In the 1930s, he became the first doctor in his family, a general practitioner, and opened an office in Pompton Plains.
"At the time, he was the only doctor for miles around," asserted Chilton. "It wasn't easy in the beginning. For the first few months he only saw one or two patients a week, and was often paid with chickens or produce because people had little money."
Col. Forrest Chilton, IV and his wife, Valerie.
The closest hospital was in Paterson, about 20 miles away. That was simply too far when most people lacked transportation. With that in mind, Dr. Chilton created a maternity ward in the attic of his home so women had a safe place to deliver babies, and subsequently launched a crusade to construct a local hospital. "My grandfather was a visionary," said Chilton. "He understood that the expanding community needed a more advanced level of care, more than a single doctor could provide."
And so began Chilton's first fundraising campaign. Dr. Chilton traveled door-to-door collecting donations and rallied the community's support. Col. Chilton recalled tagging along on house calls, as well as the large jar in his grandfather's office where patients could toss spare change. He even siphoned a portion of his fees to the hospital fund, which grew steadily over the next seven years until his dream was realized in 1954. As a special tribute, the new Chilton Hospital was named in memory of Dr. Chilton's son, Forrest S. Chilton III, who died on a P-47 fighter aircraft combat mission while serving his country during World War II.
Today, that modest, 50-bed facility has grown into an award-winning, state-of-the-art medical center. While Dr. Chilton is no longer with us, his family honors his legacy by continuing to support the hospital through philanthropy and service.
"Granddaddy would be proud of where the hospital is now," noted Chilton. "He'd applaud the modernization projects, areas of specialization and plans for the future because he understood the importance of looking forward. At the same time, he'd be happy that Chilton remains dedicated to the community, providing the same individualized health care it always has while becoming a world class hospital.”
It is clear that Col. Chilton shares his grandfather's passion for helping others. Following a distinguished military career, he and his wife, Valerie, retired to Virginia, though they return often to attend Chilton Hospital events. So don't be surprised if you see him at a ribbon cutting, or even visiting patients. And should you have that privilege, don't be shy about asking him to relay some stories about Chilton's early days. Truth is, few things bring him greater joy, and he's almost certain to oblige!
Chilton Hospital is a fully accredited, 260-bed, acute-care, community hospital. It is a four-time recipient of the HealthGrades Specialty Excellence Award in Stroke, and Five-Star Rated for Stroke Care, the highest possible, for six years in a row. It is also Five-Star Rated for Joint Replacement and Total Knee Replacement for 2012. Chilton’s many services include minimally invasive and robot-assisted surgery, a state-of-the-art Emergency Department, a Pain Management center, the Sleep Health Institute, the Comprehensive Wound Healing/Hyperbaric Center, the Chilton Cancer Center, the MotherBaby Center, an American Diabetes Association-recognized diabetes education program and a weight loss surgery program. Chilton has recently embarked on a $24 million modernization project, which includes the Cardiovascular Interventional Lab, The Breast Center and the Total Joint Center. The hospital is located at 97 West Parkway in Pompton Plains, NJ 07444. For more information about Chilton's facilities and services, or to find a doctor by name, specialty, or location, please visit www.chiltonhealth.org or call 1-888-CHILTON.