WHEN WUESTHOFF MEMORIAL HOSPITAL opened its doors in December 1941, it was housed in a six-room building with only 10 beds. The hospital staff consisted of three doctors, two nurses, an orderly, a cook and an administrator. The orderly was also the janitor and yard man. Ambulance service was provided by funeral homes.
The hospital was named after Eugene Wuesthoff, who spent his winters in the quiet Indian River community. He had the vision of a local hospital to serve the 3,000 residents of Cocoa and 700 residents of Rockledge.
In 1940, his heirs donated $12,500 for a hospital-building drive with the stipulation that it be matched with community contributions.
A successful fund raising campaign was organized by the Greater Cocoa Chamber of Commerce. The mayor of Rockledge at that time, Dr. Robert Schlernitzauer, convinced the Indian River Hotel to donate the hotel’s former golf course as the site for the hospital.