I have been watching with great interest the debate going on about the sale of the Cornwall General Hospital. It is personal to me because I am a grad from that hospital. There seems to be so much talk about a building as if it was an old library or arena. It is a hospital and still shelters patients who need to be there. I think the reason it means so much to a lot of us is because people we love and have loved were treated there for their illnesses, babies were born there and family members died there. Miracles happened and some didn’t, despite our pleas and our prayers. It isn’t just a building and it isn’t just sentimental trite. Many families sat in the old building entrance surrounded by stained glass windows and looked at the round fish tank praying with all their hearts for their sick loved one.
As part of the medical team we laughed with joy at a new birth or recovery, and we cried, sometimes with deep sorrow in our hearts as we stood at the bedside of a dying human being.
My favorite thing as a student nurse was being able to be a scrub nurse in Obstetrics during the delivery of a baby. That meant the doctor and I wore sterile clothing and gloves, etc and I could help in some small ways as the baby was born. I could have done that for the rest of my working days. It always filled me with awe and wonder to see this tiny new person with little hands and feet emerge and cry it’s little heart out, coming from a safe warm place beneath it’s mother’s heart.
I also remember being on a 3-11 shift on Pediatrics where a malnourished abused baby had been admitted and was fighting for her life. Despite the efforts of a pediatrician and intern, medicine couldn’t save her and she died. When it came time for my shift to end, no one had arrived to claim the body of this little baby. My supervisor told me that I had to take the body to the morgue. I cried all the way carrying this precious little body. We all went home with holes in our hearts that night. It happened so many years ago and yet I remember it still with tears.
One night the security suard asked me to go into a cardiac patient’s room to get him out of there because a bat had flown into the room. As I looked into the room I saw that the sleeping patient was oblivious to the bat flying around. Believe me, I am as nervous of bats as anyone but this had to be done and I knew if the bat came too close to me it would hit my nurses’ cap before my head. So with a prayer, I gently woke the man, I told him that a little bird had flown into his room and the guard needed to rescue the bird .We could help by going to another room. We could hear the bat’s wings flapping and wheezing above my cap. We got him out safely so the guard could deal with the intruder. When we went to work on any shift, we never knew what we were going to have to deal with.
No, this is not a building of cement and bricks, nor is it a liability for the government. This is a spiritual place of hope, love and gratitude to all the staff of every department who have ever had a hand in helping the people we have loved. It belongs to all of our citizens of Cornwall. We need to keep it out of love, remembrance and respect.
Dawn Ford , Retired R.N.
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