|City/Town: • Harrisburg|
|Location Class: • Hospital|
|Year Built: • 1949 | Year Abandoned: • 1973|
|Historic Designation: • National Register of Historic Places|
|Status: • Abandoned • Endangered|
|Photojournalist: • James Kirkendall|
In January 1949, the Verser Clinic Hospital was opened by Dr. Walter William (W.W) and son Dr. Joe Verser. It was a twenty-five bed facility housed in the former First Baptist Church of Harrisburg Arkansas. Three of the back rooms in the clinic were made into an apartment for Dr. Joe and his wife to live in. They lived there for thirteen years. Patients would sit down at his breakfast table and discuss their ailments.
In 1947 Dr. Joe joined his father (W.W) on the Arkansas State Medical Board which is a licensing and disciplinary board for physicians. Dr. Joe became secretary in 1949 and remained as such for 43 years until he retired from the position in 1991.
Dr. Joe Verser was one of the 18 founders of Arkansas Bluecross, Blue Shield in 1949. The program offered for individuals, hospital and surgical benefits for $1.85 a month. Families regardless of the size had the same benefits for $4.35 month.
The Verser Clinic Hospital had x-ray facilities, diathermy, ultra violet light equipment, electrocardiograph, basal metabolism machine, air-condition operating room, delivery room, nursery, elevator, complete laundry equipment room, kitchen and a intercommunication system consisting of the nurses master station with speakers in each patient’s room.
Verser Hospital closed in 1973 and Dr Joe saw patients needing hospital care at Cross County Hospital in Wynne or Methodist Hospital in Jonesboro. He was chief of staff at Methodist hospital, 1978-1979. Even though an exact count was not recorded, it was estimated that he delivered over 5,000 babies. He said “It wasn’t that I was that good, I was just cheap, affordable, and available.” He was paid $2 for the first baby he delivered.
On February 3, 1994 while sitting at his desk in an exam room, completing paperwork for a patient, Dr Joe Verser passed away at the age of 81. He had practiced medicine for 57 years.
The Verser Clinic Hospital is now owned by the Poinsett County Historical Society. Ms. Sylvia Evans (Executive Director of Publications, PCHS, Editor of Historical Books and Quarterly) wishes to preserve and restore the building to be the future home of the Poinsett County Museum. The Verser Clinic Hospital has now been nominated to be listed on the National Register of Historical Places.
Poinsett County Library, Poinsett County Historical Society
Special Thanks: Ms. Sylvia Evans, Daniel Vincent Evans Parten, Brandon Hendrix
Caution: Permission was granted in order to photograph the Verser Clinic Hospital. The building is locked and patrolled by city and county law enforcement.