February 2008

What did this place used to be?

As institutions grow in size and new buildings are added, older facilities are often remodeled (or not) and used for some other purpose other than originally intended. This often leads to the silent wondering of “What was this place?” by the present day occupants.

img0063.jpgMy own office space acts as a perfect example. Situated in the former (albeit the building still bears the name) Children’s Rehabilitation Center, my door opens up to an abandoned station that once greeted visitors and patients as they stepped off the elevators.

Many other spaces within the buildings that physically comprise the AHC are only shadows of their former self. The map below provides more examples. It depicts the third floor of the former Mayo Memorial University Hospital circa 1970. Today, the Office of the Dean for the School of Public Health is situated in the former space of Neurology Psychiatry. Station 32 along the southern wing (once the original Elliot Hospital) now serves as office space for many hospital social workers who now work out of old patient rooms. And although the coffee shop north of the main entrance is no longer there, a small snack counter is open for service at the former information desk.


Dear Patient _________:

img0061.jpgThe University of Minnesota Hospitals was established for the welfare of the state – and thus for your welfare.

So begins the introductory remarks of the patient pocket guidebook “For Your Health” given to each one of the estimated 13,000 annual patients treated at the University Hospitals in the late 1950s. The pocket guide gives information on hospital meal times and local area restaurants, visiting hours, billing and insurance, and what to expect when discharged.

The guide also explains the roles of individual staff members including doctors, medical students, nurses, dietitians, medical technologists, occupational and physical therapists, and social workers as well as what services to expect during a stay ranging from TV rentals to appointments with a visiting barber.

The language and illustrations of the pocket guide differ from today’s approach to educate visitors about the hospitals and clinics. Even the media has changed to online virtual tours to educate patients and families about what to expect.

Browse through the pocket guide “For Your Health” below.