Memories abound at Prairie New San Hospital reunion
By Caitlin Bittner
Earlier this year, the nurses of the Prairie New San Hospital reunited to share food and fun.
“I was in high school when I started working there. I’d work four to seven and on weekends,” commented Nancy Wilkinson, the youngest of the group.
“My mom became an RN in the late 20’s,” said Nancy. At the time her mother started her employment, the hospital was known as the Prairie du Chien Sanitarium, under the direction of Dr. Pinkerton, who originally started the Nurse’s School in Prairie du Chien, where it was thought that the women who received their training there were considered to be some of the best of the best.
“The nurses who trained there were good nurses. People had a real respect for them,” said Nancy.
“It was nice for girls to have a school in their hometown or at least near their hometowns,” said Nancy, who added that the reunion helped instill that the girls were from the area.
Although Nancy never went on to the Nurse’s School, she did go back to get her CNA later in her life. “I did it for me, just to see if I could,” Nancy said with pride.
“The person who traveled the farthest was from Verona, but most of us still live around here. There were some from Prairie, Bagley and Bloomington, among others.”
With the group being so close, they want to make sure to plan another get together next year. “It’s so fun to share the stories and listen to the memories,” commented Nancy.
Reminiscing, the women found themselves talking about the women who had children at the hospital. “If a woman came in who was having a baby, the doctor would give her a shot and we’d be lucky if we got her up the stairs before she had the baby,” laughed Nancy.
At their reunion, Nancy and the other nurses also found themselves thinking about the doctors they worked with. “There was Dr. Satter, Dr. Kane and Dr. Dessloch.”
In 1931, when Dr. Pinkerton retired, Dr. Satter took over for him as the medical director and saw the sanitarium make its next change into a nonprofit hospital and sanitarium.
Then, in 1939, both Dr. Kane and Dr. Dessloch came aboard.
In 1952, the hospital again changed, becoming a general hospital, which remained the same until 1975. At that time, Crawford County bought the hospital and converted it into and office building, ultimately becoming what is today called the Satter Building.