Last week’s “Years of Yore” was devoted to the early years of Hibbing medicine. To recap part of that article: with the move to the new town site in the early 1920s, a stately new hospital was built between Third and Fourth avenues bordered on the south by 21st Street. Originally named the Rood Hospital, it was re-named Hibbing General Hospital in 1942 when it was enlarged and the Benedictine Sisters took over its management.

In 1953, the hospital was enlarged again and new offices, laboratories and departments were introduced.

Just think of all the new technologies developed in the medical field in the 20th century, and the many more which continue to be introduced in the 21st century.

The following article, taken from the Hibbing Daily Tribune, March 3, 1954, reminds us that everything which seems commonplace today was once brand new.

~ Mary Palcich Keyes

Dr. Halper explains X-ray department

At the meeting of the Hibbing General Hospital Auxiliary Tuesday, Dr. Bernard Halper and his staff explained the work of the X-ray department at the hospital. Explaining that the X-ray is used in both diagnosis and treatment, Dr. Halper said the Hibbing hospital has the best diagnostic equipment on the market today.

He termed X-ray as “autopsy in life” saying it can reveal more without an operation than any other form of diagnosis. Dr. Halper stated an X-ray can detect such ailments as cancer or tuberculosis before any symptoms show. He said, “Every patient entering the hospital automatically receives a chest X-ray that sometimes reveals disease the patient was entirely unaware of.”

Comparatively new in medicine, X-ray work is a rapidly growing field with constantly improving equipment. Dr. Halper took Auxiliary member on a tour of his department where some of the equipment was demonstrated. Ten minutes after an X-ray is taken of a patient, the film is ready for reading and diagnosis.

The Auxiliary is now organizing a Future Nurses Association in the Hibbing High School.

Possible Locations of Hospital Aired

An article in the Hibbing Daily Tribune on Feb. 8, 1967, shows that plans were being discussed at that time for a brand new hospital building to serve Hibbing, Chisholm and the area around each of those towns. Both Hibbing General Hospital and the Chisholm Memorial Hospital were in need of replacement.

An agreement for the two towns to work towards a combined medical facility was a practical solution. Articles about this topic continued to appear at regular intervals throughout the late 1960s, and right through the 1970s.

May 6, 1970, saw the following article appear, written by Hibbing Daily Tribune reporter W.L. Anderson. The debate over where to put the new hospital was underway.

~ Mary Palcich Keyes

The so-called Highland Park site and the two alternate sites for the projected regional hospital center were discussed for about three hours at a meeting in Chisholm Tuesday night, but there was little indication that there was any substantial progress made toward a meeting of the minds.

The meeting was opened to the public and about 80 people attended, in addition to the board and its architectural consultants.

It was revealed at the meeting that the prime site now being considered is off the Highland Park dump area, and on 37th Street between the Gambles Shopping Center, planned for construction this spring, and Greenhaven.

The site would contain about 56 acres, about 30 of which are now owned by Gamble Development Company and about 26 acres to the north, including part of the dump area, now owned by Max Gray.

In answer to a question from the audience, James Hitchcock, president of the regional hospital board, reported that the site acquisition cost is at $70,000, but a donor has agreed to pick up that cost.

The only other possible sites which were given much consideration at the meeting were the area located on the northwest edge of Chisholm, which in the board’s rating system was number two, and a site on the Spudville Road between Hibbing and Chisholm.

Leonard Kne, who moderated the meeting, said that undoubtedly the principal reason why the Chisholm site was not chosen was the fact that Hibbing’s population is about three times as big as Chisholm’s.

The Spudville property is owned by Hanna Mining Company who indicated the property is not for sale, being reserved for future mining use.

•••

On July 12, 1977, the Hibbing Daily Tribune reported that the hospital would be signed over from the Benedictine Sisters Benevolent Association (BSBA) to a new public corporation, the Central Mesabi Medical Center. Inc., which would construct a new building.

All parties acknowledged the outstanding nursing care and management which the Sisters had provided, but the building was in need of so many updates that building a new hospital would be cheaper than trying to update the existing building.

The Benedictines were “simply unable to provide the funds for the construction of a new hospital facility,” stated Mother Grace Marie Braun, president of the BSBA.

Hibbingite Jens Rhude donated the 60 acres for the Central Mesabi Medical Center at the so-called “Highland Park” site along 37th Street and next to the Mesabi Mall. Today, across from the Gift Nook in the hospital, is a plaque honoring him for his generosity. Jens Rhude passed away before the new hospital opened.

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