The name "Berks Heim" was selected for the new county home from nearly 1,500 names submitted by city and county school children. The eight-year-old student (Sandra Kutz) said in her entry, "Berks Heim" is Pennsylvania Dutch for "Berks Home". Then she keyed the letters in "HEIM" as follows:
H for Governor Hiester, a former owner of the land
E for Essick, who donated the tract to the county
I for institution district, which administers the home and hospital
M for a memorial to the aged and infirm.
Like a dream come true, the opening of this 3 million dollar home and hospital carries out the last wish of the man who made its construction possible. That man, the late William W. Essick, donated the land on which Berks Heim stands. It was his belief that the county health and welfare institutions could be operated at less cost to the taxpayer if they were all clustered in the same proximity. Essick also believed in the restoring powers of occupational therapy. And for that reason he felt the open expanse of Essick Acres would give patients and guests more opportunity for rehabilitation by occupation out of doors. County officials put Essick's ideas to work immediately after he deeded the land. First came the county prison, then the county tuberculosis hospital, and then renovation of the Governor Hiester Mansion. Finally, builders completed the most ambitious undertaking in the plan—a new county home and hospital.
In 1973, due to an ever-increasing population of nursing patients, the Board of County Commissioners realized the need for major expansion to alleviate the overcrowding of existing facilities and for anticipated increased admissions. At this time plans were made to make a major addition by renovating the existing Tuberculosis Sanitarium and interconnecting a five-floor nursing wing, which is now known as Berks Heim Annex.
To Learn more about the expansion of Berks Heim read our New Building Update!