The 49-bed nonprofit hospital’s 151 staff had spent the earlier days clearing out private objects. Sufferers had stopped being seen there at 7 a.m. Site visitors out and in of its doorways had thinned to a sluggish crawl.
“It’s unhappy,” mentioned Denise Stutes of Keokuk. “It’s not registering very effectively. … We simply mentioned our goodbyes.”
Stutes had been working there since 2006, she defined as she left the hospital for the final time. However, like many Keokuk residents, her historical past with the constructing dates to a lot earlier.
“Lots of people have been born right here,” she mentioned. “I used to be born right here.”
Stutes remembers her mom telling her a couple of nurse, Linda Daughters, who helped her and was good to her earlier than they needed to ship her to Iowa Metropolis for a month within the neonatal intensive care unit. She understands the significance of a hospital to assist in these first pressing moments.
One instance of what’s going to be lacking for Keokuk residents got here Friday, when Missy Guymon pulled up exterior the ER along with her son, Dylan, 12, who was hurting from an harm on the soccer discipline.
They have been turned away.
“Seems to be like we’re going to drive to Fort Madison,” Guymon mentioned.
“It’s the tip of it,” Dylan mentioned earlier than perking up on the thought of getting ice cream on the best way again house.
Keokuk residents in want of emergency care should now journey: ‘It is somewhat upsetting’
Whereas choices for pressing care and household practices stay in Keokuk, the hospital’s closure leaves the town of 9,900 with out an emergency division, forcing these in must journey both 17 miles to Memorial Hospital in Carthage, Illinois, or 18 miles to Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Middle’s Fort Madison campus.
“It’s friendships,” Stutes mentioned. “It’s a group I really feel struggling.”
Kelsey Hardy, an emergency room register clerk, walked exterior for her break to see the indicators for the emergency division being eliminated. She described the ambiance contained in the hospital as “fairly somber.”
“It’s the final day, and we have been speaking concerning the reminiscences,” Hardy mentioned. “It’s somewhat upsetting. It’s simply unhappy.”
Blessing Well being introduced Sept. 1 that it could shut the hospital, which, in response to Blessing CEO Maureen Kahn, had been averaging solely one-and-a-half in-patients and 22-24 ER sufferers per day.
Kathy Hull, chief of rural hospitals for Blessing Well being, famous that rural hospitals function on a skinny margin whose scales can rapidly tip and are extremely influenced by payer combine.
“If you get the swing of a affected person or two, I do know it would not look like a lot, nevertheless it actually does matter,” Hull informed The Hawk Eye throughout a earlier interview. “It may imply the distinction between a profitable month and a not profitable month.”
Additional worsening the hospital’s monetary scenario, which had been in disaster for greater than a decade, was the situation of the constructing itself. A 3rd-party evaluation discovered it was in want of as much as $20 million price of labor.
The historical past of the hospital stretches to 1886
Blessing bought the Keokuk hospital in 2021 from UnityPoint Well being, which purchased Keokuk Space Hospital in 2016.
The hospital constructing was constructed in 1981, however its historical past is rooted in two hospitals, the oldest of which dates to April 28, 1886, when St. Joseph Hospital started operation as a 15-bed facility exterior the town limits on the invitation of Keokuk Medical School. The following 12 months, it moved to 14th and Alternate streets, welcoming additions in 1865, 1904, 1918 and 1929, with the unique constructing being changed in 1960.
In the meantime, Mercy Hospital started in 1892 in affiliation with the Keokuk School of Physicians and Surgeons earlier than turning into the W.C. Graham Protestant Hospital in 1901, when it moved to fifteenth and Fulton streets, about seven blocks from St. Joseph’s campus.
In 1914, the Ladies’s Residence Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church assumed administration of W.C. Graham and adjusted its identify to Graham Protestant Hospital in 1929. In 1941, it was included as Graham Hospital Affiliation and functioned as a nonprofit till Sept. 30, 1975.
Graham Hospital and St. Joseph consolidated on Oct. 1, 1975, giving rise to Keokuk Space Hospital.
Hawk Eye reporter Michaele Niehaus contributed to this report.