Advertisement

Old hospital's closing bittersweet for some

December 11, 2010|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • A patient is whisked to a waiting helicopter Saturday for the last helicopter departure from the now-defunct Washington County Hospital.
Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN —  Dawn was several hours away when Martha Raggio arrived at Washington County Hospital with a camera in her hand. She had come to say good-bye. Ignoring the freezing temperatures and the fact she had just finished a 10-hour shift, she wrapped a scarf around her neck and climbed a long flight of steps. Inside the building, she paused and took a photo. “It’s just something I wanted to do,” the Hagerstown woman said. “This place carries a lot of memories for me.” Raggio was born at Washington County Hospital. So were her parents, her brothers and sisters, and her daughter. Several family members worked at the hospital, she said.  And, as a teenager, she was a candy striper — a young volunteer who delivered newspapers and magazines to patients. That volunteer work developed into a passion for nursing and a career that has spanned 40 years. “It all started here,” she said.   For many people, Saturday was a day of remembrance, as Washington County Hospital moved its services and patients to Meritus Medical Center. It also was a day of sharing. Marc Kross, chief of staff for Meritus Medical Center, said he was at Washington County Hospital in the early-morning hours to see the ambulance entrance closed for the last time. “We were all there taking pictures and hugging,” he said.  “Emotionally, you can’t imagine the camaraderie here among employees.” Kross said Saturday was a bittersweet day, with an ending but a new beginning. “This building has been good to us,” he said. “And there will be a tear in the eye of many people. We’ve saved a lot of lives and helped a lot of patients.” “But we finally have a cutting-edge medical center,” he said. “It’s a Ferrari, a Lamborghini and a Rolls Royce all rolled into one.” A television played to empty rows of chairs in the lobby of the emergency department. Behind closed doors, a few patients still were being treated. Cindy Lewis, R.N., a clinical manager, said she expected the department to close at about 4 p.m. “I have a lot of memories here,” she said. “I’ve been here 22 years, so today is kind of sad.” Lewis said she met her husband, a state trooper, at Washington County Hospital.  Throughout the day, staff members would be packing and tagging supplies and equipment, she said. After work, more than 120 staff members were planning a party at Barefoot Bernie’s. Security officer Arlene Hancock hurried to the hospital’s roof Saturday morning to open the doors for a helicopter transport crew arriving to pick up a patient. Hancock, who lives in Hagerstown, said “there are a lot of emotions today. It really surprised me. People have an attachment to this building.” Hancock, who will be working security at the Women and Children’s Welcome Center at Meritus Medical Center, said she will miss the old hospital. “I feel sad about the building closing,” she said. “I wish they’d do something with it. Outside of that, I’m looking forward to a new building.” John Derr, director of material management, said he worked at Washington County Hospital for 17 years before retiring in January 2009. He received a bit of a surprise when he was asked to come back to help with the moving process. “I was flattered,” he said. Derr said many employees have asked about being able to purchase items that have meant a lot to them during their years at the hospital. “It would boggle your mind what they want,” he laughed. “One person wanted to take a door out of Pangborn Hall; another wanted a chandelier.” Derr said two auctions will be held for persons interested in particular items — one for employees and one open to the public.  Dates have not been announced. Items of historical note will remain with the hospital. Derr said he was experiencing a lot of emotions Saturday. “I think this is a grieving process,” he said. “There is loss, denial, anger and, finally, acceptance.” “But the good thing is there is a good replacement,” he said. “It’s a great new building.” Dawn was several hours away when Martha Raggio arrived at Washington County Hospital with a camera in her hand. She had come to say good-bye. Ignoring the freezing temperatures and the fact she had just finished a 10-hour shift, she wrapped a scarf around her neck and climbed a long flight of steps. Inside the building, she paused and took a photo. “It’s just something I wanted to do,” the Hagerstown woman said. “This place carries a lot of memories for me.” Raggio was born at Washington County Hospital. So were her parents, her brothers and sisters, and her daughter. Several family members worked at the hospital, she said.  And, as a teenager, she was a candy striper — a young volunteer who delivered newspapers and magazines to patients. That volunteer work developed into a passion for nursing and a career that has spanned 40 years. “It all started here,” she said.   For many people, Saturday was a day of remembrance, as Washington County Hospital moved its services and patients to Meritus Medical Center. It also was a day of sharing. Marc Kross, chief of staff for Meritus Medical Center, said he was at Washington County Hospital in the early-morning hours to see the ambulance entrance closed for the last time. “We were all there taking pictures and hugging,” he said.  “Emotionally, you can’t imagine the camaraderie here among employees.” Kross said Saturday was a bittersweet day, with an ending but a new beginning. “This building has been good to us,” he said. “And there will be a tear in the eye of many people. We’ve saved a lot of lives and helped a lot of patients.” “But we finally have a cutting-edge medical center,” he said. “It’s a Ferrari, a Lamborghini and a Rolls Royce all rolled into one.” A television played to empty rows of chairs in the lobby of the emergency department. Behind closed doors, a few patients still were being treated. Cindy Lewis, R.N., a clinical manager, said she expected the department to close at about 4 p.m. “I have a lot of memories here,” she said. “I’ve been here 22 years, so today is kind of sad.” Lewis said she met her husband, a state trooper, at Washington County Hospital.  Throughout the day, staff members would be packing and tagging supplies and equipment, she said. After work, more than 120 staff members were planning a party at Barefoot Bernie’s. Security officer Arlene Hancock hurried to the hospital’s roof Saturday morning to open the doors for a helicopter transport crew arriving to pick up a patient. Hancock, who lives in Hagerstown, said “there are a lot of emotions today. It really surprised me. People have an attachment to this building.” Hancock, who will be working security at the Women and Children’s Welcome Center at Meritus Medical Center, said she will miss the old hospital. “I feel sad about the building closing,” she said. “I wish they’d do something with it. Outside of that, I’m looking forward to a new building.” John Derr, director of material management, said he worked at Washington County Hospital for 17 years before retiring in January 2009. He received a bit of a surprise when he was asked to come back to help with the moving process. “I was flattered,” he said. Derr said many employees have asked about being able to purchase items that have meant a lot to them during their years at the hospital. “It would boggle your mind what they want,” he laughed. “One person wanted to take a door out of Pangborn Hall; another wanted a chandelier.” Derr said two auctions will be held for persons interested in particular items — one for employees and one open to the public.  Dates have not been announced. Items of historical note will remain with the hospital. Derr said he was experiencing a lot of emotions Saturday. “I think this is a grieving process,” he said. “There is loss, denial, anger and, finally, acceptance.” “But the good thing is there is a good replacement,” he said. “It’s a great new building.”

Advertisement
The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|