Replica of Unique Hospital Opens Saturday

Replica of Unique Hospital Opens Saturday

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Ed Yeates ReportingA replica of an old pioneer hospital opens its doors tomorrow. It once dished out a unique kind of medicine in Utah. In fact, at the time, it was a one-of-a-kind in the United States.

In the 1880's most injured miners in the Great Basin wanted to come to the Deseret Hospital. Why? The physicians in this building had a special touch.

George Van Komen, M.D., Salt Lake Physician: “And the one thing they could supply more than anything else was compassion and understanding and care.”

Deseret Hospital was run ALL by women physicians, unheard of in the United States at the time and a piece of history which has gone almost unnoticed until now.

Van Komen: "Medical school was for men in the 1800's. Women did not get into medical school."

But these women did. Romania Pratt, Martha Hughes Cannon, Ellen B. Ferguson, Elvira Steven Barney, and more. Brigham Young sent them back to Philadelphia to get their medical degrees. Ellis Shipp, who headed the hospital, was the first to go.

Van Komen: "She sold her piano. She left her husband, her small children and went back east, studied medicine, and came back as a physician."

This replica of Deseret Hospital opens as a museum in a grand ceremony tomorrow in the foothills of Salt Lake. Inside are many things, for example: a partitioned area represents the surgical suite. The room is only about 12 by 14 but that's all they needed back then, a place for a table and a cabinet for surgical instruments.

Deseret Hospital treated everybody who came. It also specialized in women's illnesses and complications of childbirth. Many of the miners treated here had no money. but that didn't matter.

Van Komen: "They really did feel that being a physician was a calling - a calling that required the human touch."

It’s the true sense of the Oath of Hippocrates too often overlooked in medicine today.

Opening ceremonies for the Deseret Hospital and Quilt Museum begin tomorrow morning at 10:30 at "This Is The Place Heritage Park." The nearly one million dollar replica was built entirely from donated time and money.

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