Stitches in time: HCMC Hx

Take a journey though more than 150 years of the history of health care in Hennepin County…decade by decade.   Throughout the months of August and September, an exhibit created by the Hennepin County Medical Center’s History Center will be showcased in the lower level of the Hennepin County Government Center.

Starting in 1871 with Cottage Hospital ( later became St. Barnabas) the exhibit tells the stories of hospitals, doctors, epidemics, treatments and breakthroughs  through a combination of photos, objects, statistics and documents, including an orange carved by a patient during the typhoid epidemic in 1906,  a model of the current hyperbaric chamber and many other fascinating objects.

Hospitals became a necessity in early Minneapolis to care for the loggers and mill workers who didn’t have family nearby when they got sick or injured. Told through entries in a diary called “Voices of the Past”, the experience of a physician in 1874 reads like this: “Late in the day, a carpenter came in.  Large volumes of blood poured from his left arm. Apparently he lost control of his saw and struck his arm, rather than the wood.  The poor devil was ghostly white, but put up a good bravado.  The bleeding was difficult to stop, but after some time, it was accomplished with several ligatures, and he went on his way.  I finally supped on turnip soup and bread, and then returned to see my patients. I pray we may increase beyond five beds someday.”

From these humble beginnings, health care in Hennepin County would rise to the level of national and international prominence in a little more than 100 years with breakthroughs in organ transplants and success in the fight against polio.

The exhibit will be open during business hours, August 5 – September 29.  The Gallery is located between City Hall and the Hennepin County Government Center on the lower level.

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