Remembering the Unremembered

The Eastern Shore Hospital Center Auxiliary was chartered in 1952. It is the oldest such organization serving a Maryland Department of Health facility. The mission of the Auxiliary is to provide the highest quality of direct volunteer services to patients by managing the Auxiliary’s resources and coordinating special projects that benefit the therapeutic programs of the Eastern Shore Hospital Center.

The land where the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay now stands in Cambridge was once home to the Eastern Shore Hospital Center (ESHC). Over the course of many years, from 1915 to 1963, some of the patients died and were buried in the little cemetery without name or ritual. On December 9, 2019, the community held an “Unremembered Patients” cemetery dedication to bring dignity, respect, recognition and peace to these 194 forgotten souls who had struggled with mental illness.

Hyatt’s Golf Pro, Abby Messick, reads the educational roadside marker featuring the more than 100-year history of the Eastern Shore Hospital Center.

Through a matching grant award from the Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area, donations from the English Foundation, Waddell Foundation coupled with the generosity of the ESHC Auxiliary, Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay, Thomas Monument Works, Eastern Tree Service and grant writing experience of Thomas Slaughter, a Cambridge Rotarian, the ESHC Auxiliary purchased a six-foot tall granite and bronze marker listing all 194 patient names.

During the recent roadside marker installation ceremony, Judy Slaughter and Father Daniel K. Dunlap admire the granite marker with the names of the 194 individuals buried on the site.

Today, we have a clearer definition and understanding of mental illness that impacts individuals over many years. “Turning Numbers into Names” established recognition of those that struggled, reducing the stigma and prejudice associated with mental illness through awareness and respect for these serious conditions.

The Auxiliary’s efforts to show respect continued with a successful mini-grant application award from the Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area. This award coupled with matching funds provided by the ESHC Auxiliary and the artistic talents of local artist, Midge Ingersoll, brought recognition to a large and indigent population. An educational roadside marker featuring the 100+ year history of the Eastern Shore Hospital Center, a schematic of the original facility on the shores of the Choptank River, and a commemorative poem written by an Auxiliary member, A. May Thompson, was installed on January 15, 2021.

This marker was strategically placed with direction of the Hyatt’s Golf Pro, Abby Messick. Abby thought it would be nice for visitors to have an evolving panoramic view featuring the large granite marker with the names of the 194 departed souls (2019), the small stone with bronze plaques indicating the history and earlier efforts of recognition (1986, 2019) and the beautiful Shoal Creek just off the Choptank River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.

Abby’s parents both worked at the Eastern Shore Hospital Center. Abby has fond memories of spending time on this property when she was young. The patient cemetery is between the 16th and 17th hole on the River Marsh Golf Course at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay. The Eastern Shore Hospital Center was originally located on this property. When the property was sold to the Hyatt, Maryland legislation was passed giving the Hyatt responsibility for the perpetual care of this sacred ground.

The sole purpose of the Eastern Shore Hospital Center Auxiliary is to provide direct benefit to the residents of the Eastern Shore Hospital Center. Membership is open to all individuals who are interested in advocating and supporting the center’s patients. For more information on interesting and flexible volunteer job assignments, opportunities to learn new skills, annual training programs on pertinent health topics, fundraising events and community advocacy programs, contact Judy Slaughter, Director of ESHC Volunteer Services, at 410-221-2358.

Enjoy a video of the January ceremony at: https://youtu.be/g_qi1c8-64s (short version) or https://youtu.be/b8hil4jj8BU (full version).

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