One last goodbye to St. Joseph Hospital

St. Joseph Hospital in Ottumwa

Hundreds of people showed up Tuesday evening to bid farewell one last time to the St. Joseph Hospital in Ottumwa, as it will be torn down in the fall.

The event was sponsored by the Ottumwa Area Chamber of Commerce and the Ottumwa Regional Health Center. Those that attended could socialize and enjoy appetizers before the presentation began in the fourth floor chapel of the hospital.

Built in 1922, the hospitalâ??s walls are sure to have seen it all. Several speakers presented St. Josephâ??s long and meaningful history.

â??You know, you have people that come here when they're born -- they have families. And you know when they are ill and certainly when they say goodbye to their loved ones. But an institution, a healthcare institution is a significant part of a community when you look at the people that work there, the education and everything that it brings. It's something that no matter what the circumstance, it's lost when it moves along,â?? said Phil Dionne, CEO of Ottumwa Regional Health Center.

Terry McNitt, the president of the Ottumwa Area Chamber of Commerce, spoke of how St. Joseph has been a landmark in Ottumwa for so many years.

Tours of the third floor of the hospital were also given. Those that had worked inside the walls long ago reminisced with each other about the memories that were created there.

â??People come up to you and say you took care of my mother or you were there when my baby was little maybe, or whatever. And it just makes you feel good that there was a wonderful period when we could do some good,â?? said Sister Marie Vittetoe, whom worked at St. Joseph Hospital from 1950 to 1970.

For many, it was a bittersweet night.