FRANKLIN — The Miners Hall Museum was the perfect place to host an exhibit on “The Way We Worked in Southeast Kansas - Healthcare,” according to Jay Gilchrist, vice president of mission integration at Via Christi Hospital.
The exhibit, which will be taken down on Friday, was the next to last monthly exhibit leading up to “The Way We Worked,” a traveling Smithsonian exhibit that will be at the Franklin museum from May 11 to June 23.
Gilchrist, who coordinated the exhibit with Michael Hayslip, Via Christi public relations director, pointed out that Mt. Carmel Hospital, now known as Via Christi, was erected primarily to serve the needs of area miners and their families.
“Charles Devlin, owner of the Mount Carmel Coal Company, appealed to Bishop John J. Hennessey to build a hospital in the region,” Gilchrist said.
Mother Bernard Sheridan of the Sisters of St. Joseph answered the bishop’s call, along with five other sisters.
“They came here with faith and $5,” Gilchrist said.
A devout Catholic, Devlin donated 40 acres of land between Frontenac and Pittsburg and $5,000 to the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1898. In appreciation for his generosity, it was decided that the hospital would be called Mount Carmel Hospital and that it would be placed under the patronage of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Construction began in 1901, and the hospital opened its doors on April 14, 1903.
“For 25 cents a month, a miner and his family members were entitled to receive treatment at the hospital,” Gilchrist said.
The exhibit includes numerous ledgers, records and transcribed oral histories of local doctors and nurses, as well as numerous artifacts, including some from other collections, including a notebook of clippings devoted to longtime Pittsburg school nurse Margaret Woods and the medical bag of Dr. Vernon Berkey, pioneering area radiologist.
“It’s kind of fun to think of the people you encounter when you put something like this together,” Gilchrist said.
Hayslip that that there’s plenty of credit to go around.
Page 2 of 2 - “This exhibit would not have been possible without Girard Medical Center and the Crawford County Health Department,” he said. “Karen Wenzelburger at Girard did a fabulous job of securing pieces, and we received several histories that we were able to display from Janis Goedeke, county health officer. Laurie Graham at Arma Drug was also a big help.”
Also on view were several items taken from an exhibit honoring Cecilia Waggoner at McPherson Nurse Education Hall, Pittsburg State University. Waggoner, still active and alert at 100, was invited to participate in program in conjunction with the exhibit, but sent a written account of her memories instead.
“We owe a lot to Randy Roberts,” Gilchrist said. “We turned our archives over to him last summer. He gave us good advice on how to put things together.”
He added that the exhibit has been educational, not only for the public, but for those putting it together.
“It’s important for us to know whose shoulders you stand on,” Gilchrist said. “Sure, we’ve grown a lot, and we’ll continue to become more sophisticated, but we’re still people, and people caring for people is what it’s all about.”