The History of Richfield Living
A legacy built on the vision of two nurses.
Richfield Living’s story is unique and inspiring. Richfield is not owned or affiliated with any entity, as we are a not-for-profit senior living community. Our history tells the story of an institution that was built by ingenuity, dedicated individuals and from community organizations, and the concerted efforts of two professional nurses — Jane Morgan Harris and Cary Holladay. The following written account was taken from early records. We invite you to click on the tabs below to learn more about our history.
Richfield dates back to 1919 when a group of women saw the need to provide the rural citizens of Roanoke County and the surrounding area with a means of learning how to care for the sick. By February 1920 a nursing committee called the Roanoke County Nursing Committee was formed with an imaginative, dedicated lady by the name of Mrs. Jane Morgan Harris appointed public health nurse for this committee.
One bitter cold night in the winter of 1934, Mrs. Harris, was called out for a maternity case on Salem-Carvin’s Creek Road in Roanoke County. Accompanied by Dr. William C. Stephenson, they located the expectant mother, her husband and their seven children huddled together in a one-room abandoned filling station. The delivery was made using the doctor’s automobile headlights. Appalled at the care – or lack of care – which was provided for indigent, obstetrical patients, Mrs. Harris appealed to the County Board of Supervisors for the use of an old house on the County Farm west of Salem.
She began a unique program of mobile clinics which offered instructions in dental care, toxoids, tuberculin care, baby and preschool care and school sanitation. Mrs. Harris also offered classes to rural women instructing them in home nursing and care for the sick throughout Roanoke County. These groups of women were then organized into social service club resulting in 35 clubs.
Mrs. Harris and the women from the social service clubs, armed with scrub brushes and paint, made the old house habitable. A Roanoke Hospital donated two discarded beds and Mrs. Harris devised bedside tables from orange crates and stoves from oil drums. She admitted her first patients for a fee of $5 for two weeks of care. If the patients did not have the money, they brought in farm produce in exchange for their care. The Virginia Emergency Relief Association employed a graduate nurse for the first two years of operations as accommodations were gradually expanded.
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