Weather Forecast


Days Gone By

Editor's Note: There may not be many readers left who remember the opening of the new City Hospital in January 1939, now known as the Ingram Center, but the building has always been the center of much activity. The following information was taken from River Falls Journal archives.

Headline of the Week: Jan. 12, 1939: Many attend open house at hospital Saturday, Sunday.

"Over 1500 people were shown through the new City Hospital. The open house was held under the sponsorship of the Hospital Guild, and the registry book showed that 1,594 people signed the register, but reports were that many visitors slipped by without signing during the rush hours.

"Visitors were asked to bring gifts of canned fruit, jams, jells, or some other article to stock the pantry of the new hospital, and the response was more than gratifying. A check on the contributions shows that the following were received: $4.15 in cash, one chicken, 188 quarts of fruit sauce, 12 quarts of canned vegetables and 14 cans of vegetables, 15 quarts of pickles, seven quarts of tomato juice, 56 jars of jelly, 80 jars of jam, and four packages of Jello."

According to the Jan. 5, 1939, River Falls Journal:

"On the ground floor (or basement) will be seen the boiler room, where automatically controlled oil furnaces heat the building and the hot water for the tanks. All hot water will be soft water. A mammoth electric switchboard can be seen here, carrying at least 19 switches. Then, there is the incinerator, hot water tanks, etc., in this room. Also on the basement floor are the auxiliary operating room, three rooms for nurses, bath, lavatory, large pantry, janitor's closet, supply rooms, record storage room, laundry, and the elevator entrance.

"On the ground floor is the lobby and office, patients' rooms, nurses station, drug room, utility room, diet kitchen, etc.

"The upper floor houses the working rooms, operator room, sound-proof delivery room and nursery. The nursery has room for eight basinets, and contains a shower for new arrivals.

"All doors on patients room swing on what is called a friction hinge. These doors have a hook on them, enabling the nurse to close it even when she has her arms full, merely by hooking her arm in the hook.

"Small lights placed in the walls of the patents' rooms about two feet from the floor cast a slight light into the room when turned on, enabling the nurse to look into the room and see that everything is all right without disturbing the patient.

"The corridors of the hospital are also equipped with these walls lights which give enough light to see to walk around, but not enough to disturb any one.

"The call system whereby the patient calls the nurse is excellent. When the patient presses the signal at his bedside, a light comes on at the nurse's station on that floor, and a light also shows above the patient's door. A buzzer also sounds. The nurse on duty can stop the buzzer at her station, but cannot put out the signal light without going into the patient's room and pressing a second button on the signal cord. There is also a system of lights that summon help to the delivery room, operator room, or bathroom.

"All doors in the building are of extra width, allowing the shifting of patients on beds without the necessity of taking the patient from his or her bed.

"There is no dirty linen chute, but rather a linen cart has been installed. It was the opinion of those in charge that linen chutes are apt to become contaminated, and this featured was abandoned.

"The x-ray room, surgeon's dressing room, scrub sinks, and operating room occupy the north section of the upper floor, and is called the "sterile area." Here is the heart of the hospital, where every possible convenience has been installed and provided for in order that the patient may have the best of care, the best of service, and that the surgeons may work under the best possible conditions.

"All in all, River Falls has one of the best equipped and most modernly laid out hospitals in the northwest, bar none.

"The first baby born in the new hospital is going to be a mighty lucky arrival. Free doctor's services, ten days free hospitalization, cash, and many gifts donated by merchants of River Falls will be given to the first baby."

Included in the same issue:

"On January 11, 1939 between 5 and 6 a.m. the first baby was born at the hospital -- Kathleen Ann Peskar, 8 pounds, 8 1/4 ounces, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Peskar of Kinnickinnic. The attending physician, Dr. Chalmer Davee, donated his services as part of the list of prizes.

"A report from the hospital states that Mrs. Peskar and babe are doing nicely. The Journal wishes to congratulate Mr. and Mrs. Peskar on the double good fortune, a fine daughter and the distinction of having the first child born in River Falls' very modern, new hospital. May Kathleen Ann continue to bring you luck and good fortune throughout her life.

"Mr. and Mrs. Peskar have four other children besides Kathleen Ann we are informed."

Kathleen, now known as Kathleen Baker, has spent most of her life not far from her birthplace. She's married to Roland Baker and the couple have two children -- Bonnie Fox and Barbara Ombuy, both graduated from River Falls High School. The Bakers now live on Second Street.

Submitted photos are always welcome for this column. Black and white or color photographs will be scanned and returned in original condition with photo credit given.

Call Pat Hunter at 425-1561, for more information or e-mail your photos to