from Tivy High School, on Tivy Street, Kerrville, Texas, in May
1948. That summer they were opening the new Sid Peterson Memorial
Hospital on the corner of Water Street and Sidney Baker. I was hired
to help move things from the old hospital on the northwest corner of
Main Street and Sidney Baker to the new hospital.
They gave me
a new Chevrolet pickup to move items to the new hospital. Driving a
new pickup was a great thrill for an 18 year old boy. The Peterson
brothers also owned a dealership that sold all makes of General
Motors vehicles. After all of the items that they wanted
from the old hospital and all the new equipment was unpacked, the
floor of the hospital was a tire store and gas filling station. Cars
would drive into this area which was covered. While the attendant
filled the car with gas, checked the tire pressure and the water and
oil levels, a flexible six inch duct was secured on the car window
to blow cool, air-conditioned air into the car.
move, I continued working at the hospital as an Orderly which was a
“general flunkey,” since I worked all over the hospital doing most
anything. This included giving injections to operating the elevator.
Elevators then were not self-service they had to have an operator.
It was an
incredible learning experience and I was exposed to many new things.
It helped prepare me for my career in Physical Therapy.
Much of my
time was spent in Central Supply which supplied sterile goods and
other items to the hospital. At this time there were no disposables,
everything was cleaned, autoclaved and reused, needles, syringes,
gloves, catheters, nasogastric tubes, masks, gowns, surgical linen,
lap sponges everything except 2X2 and 4X4 sponges (gauze dressings).
The gauze dressings came in paper packages unsterile. They were
opened, placed in stainless cans with lids and autoclaved. The lids
were slightly open during autoclaving. When they were needed a set
of forceps, kept in a holder with Zephrin chloride solution, were
used to remove the sponges from the cans. Also masks and other items
kept in sterile cans were removed with the forceps. We made up packs
of linen for various types of surgery and baby delivery including
the braided tape to tie the umbilical cord and autoclaved them.
cleaned, flushed with ether and checked with cotton for burrs. If
burrs were found they were sharpened on a whet rock. The plunger and
barrel numbers of the glass syringes had to match for them to fit.
The latex gloves had to be washed in green liquid soap, rinsed, hung
up to dry, turned to dry, tested for holes, powdered, put in
individual muslin folders by size and autoclaved.
worked in the operating rooms. The operating rooms had windows
covered with venetian blinds I had to clean regularly.
to the cleaning, I assisted the circulation nurse by opening and
handing sterile items to the scrub nurse and doctor. During prostate surgery
(TURP) I had to keep a large glass flask filled with sterile water.
I used a stainless steel pitcher with a hand towel pinned over the
top, that had been autoclaved, to transport the water from the water
sterilizer built into the wall to the flask. The water is used to
flush out the prostate tissue that is being removed.
morning they brought a woman that had been burned to the Emergency
Room. She lived on a ranch near Medina. Unknown to the family there
was a propane leak. Unlike natural gas, propane is heavier than air.
The propane collected under the house and eventually exploded. All
of her body was burned to one degree or another. Since her face was
burned, my job was to hold the oxygen mask close to her face as it
could not be strapped on. She was conscious as the doctors and
nurses removed the dead tissue and applied bandages. I would also
drop small pieces of ice between her charred lips. She was in the
Emergency Room most of the morning. After the bandaging was
completed she was transferred to a room on the floor. There were no
Intensive Care Units (ICU). She died a short while later. It was an
experience I shall never forget.
Once I held
the patient’s leg up while the orthopedic surgeon drove a steel
medullary rod up his femur with a hammer. I also counted the lap
sponges to be sure none were left in the patient. Even though I
was not formally trained I catheterized and gave intramuscular
injections to patients.
I prepped patients for surgery including
shaving and sterilizing the skin. Once a patient needed a blood
transfusion and I gave him my blood.
some of my memories of the Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital on Sidney
Baker Street in Kerrville in those early days when it first opened.
© September 2009
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