Westfield Memorial Hospital Foundation History

On July 13, 1978, a Certificate of Incorporation was signed for the Chautauqua Health Care Foundation (CHCF). Its purpose was to operate exclusively for charitable support, educational and scientific endeavors and was created to solicit, receive and maintain fund or funds of property, both real and personal, and to use and apply that income for the benefit of Westfield Memorial Hospital and for the benefit of any other health-related facility in Chautauqua County.

A Certificate of Amendment dated June 5, 1996, renamed the CHCF to Westfield Memorial Hospital Foundation re-establishing the Foundation as a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization.

After many years in dormancy, the WMHF was reactivated for the 1997-1998 Capital Campaign Fund Drive raising $1.2 million for the new community hospital to be established where the Spencer House was originally located. As a result of this success, a committee was formed for the express purpose of conducting annual campaigns.

In an effort to keep the Spencer name synonymous with the hospital, the committee formed ‘The Spencer Legacy Society’ honoring and recognizing the generosity and vision of those who leave a legacy for the Foundation to sustain its mission. By leaving a legacy through a will or other form of deferred gift one becomes a member in this honorary society.

Patricia Gaughan DiPalma was hired as the very first executive director in April of 2005, helping to raise close to $3 Million with guidance from members of the WMHF BOD and by nurturing relationships with many in the corporate and not-for-profit world throughout Chautauqua County and beyond.

Under her tutelage, the Foundation procured the largest gift of $100,000 from individual donors in its history in support of the $750,000 (RED) Renovate our Emergency Department Campaign.

Although the hospital and foundation are separate entities – both incorporated, both with its own board members, financial entities and purpose and each with its own devotion to making sure its patients receive the best care, they are partners in purpose. In 2013, Saint Vincent Hospital and WMH joined the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) under the umbrella of Highmark Health, further expanding healthcare services to the community.

The Covid 19 pandemic has shown just how essential a rural hospital is to the communities it serves. The Foundation’s recent Annual Campaign focused on growing the Foundation’s endowment to guarantee funds for the continuation of important hospital services for years to come. The campaign slogan, The Little Hospital That Could, reflects on the hospital’s stellar history of providing care while at the same time recognizes the hospital’s future needs.

The first 40+ years of our history has been filled with wonderful memories and relationships with so many generous people, who have given their time, talents and treasure to make our foundation and AHN Westfield Hospital successful. We look forward to a future of new and exciting opportunities and friendships.

The History of ‘Sailor and Canton’

Sailor and Canton are replicas of a Newfoundland descendent: the Chesapeake Bay retriever. They were cast in the 1850s at Hayward, Barlett, and Co., in Baltimore, Maryland. Their names come from real dogs rescued from a sinking British Brig in the early 1800s.

Local historians believe that the dogs were placed on the Westfield Memorial Hospital Property in 1853 by Dr. John Spencer, who built the mansion where the hospital is now located. It is thought the dogs, of a hollow cast iron, were a part of the original embellishments of the Spencer estate.

After their arrival in Westfield, they became significant symbols of the village’s rich heritage. But Sailor and Canton were nearly lost to the melting pot during World War II when the dogs were given to a scrap drive to support the war effort.

The dogs were purchased by a Buffalonian and rescued from the furnace. In 1951, an editor for the Westfield Republican organized a fund drive to bring the dogs back to Westfield. Area residents rallied around the cause and raised the $500 necessary to purchase the dogs and bring them home to Westfield. They were repainted their original color, black. They were mounted on cement bases and are about three feet tall as they stand on the WMH lawn overlooking Main Street.

In the almost 160 years (give or take a few) that the dogs have been Westfield residents, many a youngster has sat astride the canines. The iron statuary was fashioned to give the dogs a friendly facial expression. About every person who grew up in Westfield can relate a tale told them about the iron dogs. "They bark every time the fire whistle blows," was a favorite story told to youngsters.