Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The end of an era

Over a century ago, Monmouth, IL had a nice, solid, functioning hospital.
Postcard: Hospital, Monmouth, Ill.
postmarked 1909, from Little York, Ill.

By the 1920s, the city had grown enough, we needed to add on, expand. It soon looked like this: Postcard: Monmouth Hospital

After the next Great War, a further extension was built, along with a fancy new front door. It was in this building that my kid sister was born, less than a month after we moved to town. While Mom was there, with the baby, Dad took the rest of us over to sit in the park across the street (they didn't let kids into the hospitals, back then, unless they were in urgent need of help. We had to wait outside). Eventually, Mom came to the window to show us our new little sister.

I have to admit, I was unimpressed, back then. But things change.

Within a couple of years of that date, Monmouth had a new hospital built on the outskirts of town -- 'way over yonder, just off the new bypass.

Now, of course, due to the change in the way health care is managed in small-town America, Monmouth's "new" hospital is no longer much more than an outpatient facility with a few Urgent Care™ supplies. Real emergencies, real traumas warrant transporting patients at least 20 minutes away, to Galesburg, or tossing them in a helicopter and flying them to 50-mile-away Peoria.

But I digress.

In the first years after the "new" hospital was built, the Old Hospital was adapted to serve as a nursing home, and it did so for another thirty years. But recently, it was shut down and sold to the college, where they're discussing a serious need for more parking space for the students (not that they have that many more students than they did in 1967, but now, for some reason, every student has to have his car here. And they say students lead spartan lives. snort).

Any way you spell it, though, the Old Hospital must make way.

First went the oldest section.
Sunset on the Hospital.01

The remaining portion will likely come down within this week.

Sunset on the Hospital.02
near sunset

I'm glad my sister had the opportunity, a couple of years ago, to show her children where she was born. It will be odd to go to the park across the street from it, now. Ghosts of babies who became living, breathing grown-ups will still haunt the block, bouncing around the teeter-totter.

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