Time capsule to cap Salem hospital’s 100th anniversary

SALEM-Health care professionals who dig up a piece of history in 2063 may not have DVD players or touch-tone phones, but they’ll learn all about them and daily life at Salem Regional Medical Center in 2013.

That’s the idea behind the time capsule being buried at 2 p.m. Jan. 26 at the hospital on East State Street, in a hole just east of the flag pole which is just west of the main entrance at the front of the building.

The burial of the time capsule will conclude the hospital’s 100-year anniversary celebration, immediately followed by the indoor dedication of the new private patient room tower, a project for current and future generations of the community.

SRMC, formerly known as Salem Community Hospital, opened on Sept. 13, 1913 and has continuously progressed and expanded since that day. This past fall, after most of the centennial events were over, personnel started collecting items from throughout the hospital to place in the time capsule.

“What we were trying to do is paint a picture of an average day at this point in history,” SRMC Director of Public Relations Michele Hoffmeister said.

For some expert advice, they enlisted the help of Judi Allio, from the Salem Historical Society, who oversaw the time capsule project for Salem’s bicentennial celebration in 2006 and the Dale Shaffer Legacy Time Capsule burial last year. She was there when the time capsule buried in 1956 for Salem’s sesquicentennial was unearthed in 2006.

“She was just a tremendous resource,” Hoffmeister said.

Allio explained how they can safely package the materials so they’ll be preserved and hooked them up with the people who helped with the other time capsules.

“She really motivated us to think outside the box about items that would be interesting to the people in 50 years who will open the capsule,” Hoffmeister said.

For example, someone in the future may not use a touch-tone phone, so they’re including one in the time capsule. Another item on the list is known as an incentive spirometer. For anyone who’s had major surgery and stayed in the hospital, it’s that little tube with the tiny ball inside that patients try to elevate by blowing into the spirometer to help prevent respiratory problems.

Employees were asked to submit items that represented their daily work lives at the hospital, from equipment used for patient care and treatment to brochures, patient wristbands and memorabilia from the centennial celebrations throughout 2013. The billing department submitted a billing statement. Food and nutrition submitted the department’s famous wedding soup recipe and room service menus.

Nurses submitted a stethoscope and tummy pillow. The surgical staff gave a surgical stapler and staple removal kit, a suture removal kit and suture samples. The lab donated collection kits and blood glucose monitor kits. Orthopedics provided an artificial toe joint and a hip femur rod and ball. Obstetrics gave a new mother gift bag, a photo of the first baby of 2014 and a newborn hat and pacifier. Rehabilitation offered a Theraband exercise band. Volunteers services gave a copy of their handbook and one of their blue vests.

Now back to the DVD player. As part of the 100th anniversary, Hoffmeister said they compiled an employee photo album in a powerpoint presentation and burned it to a DVD to be placed in the time capsule. They decided they better include an inexpensive DVD player and instructions for the people in the future to use to play the DVD since there’s no guarantee they’ll exist in 50 years. The hospital’s charitable foundation also compiled a DVD with all of the Shining Star honorees on it.

Other items will include a poster, employee handbook, employee badge, photographs of the board and administrative staff, a letter from SRMC President/CEO Anita Hackstedde, M.D., a letter from the time capsule committee and brochures from the different departments – over 137 items.

In recognition of the hospital’s history, there will be newspaper articles about the centennial activities, a 100th anniversary T-shirt, a Christmas ornament and other keepsakes from the Founder’s Day Breakfast, a copy of the Salem News when the hospital celebrated it’s 50th anniversary, a copy of the fall hospital newsletter Choices, which highlighted the 100-year history, and a copy of a yet-to-be-released Salem News publication about the new patient room tower.

To remember construction of the new patient room tower, the flag that was on the beam lifted to the top of the tower during the topping out ceremony and the hospital banner on the other end of the beam will be included in the time capsule.

Hoffmeister chaired the time capsule committee. Other members of the committee include: Judi Allio as consultant; LuAnn Haddad as community donor coordinator, Jerry Wheeler of Plant Operations who made sure the hole was dug before the ground froze, filling it with sand and replacing the sod until the appointed time; physician representative Walter Dombroski, M.D.; nursing representative Erika Luckage; finance/administration representative Reva Kugler; employee communications committee representative Sue Mehno, whose dad helped build the sesquicentennial time capsule; and clinical operations representative Jane Shoemaker. Ex officio members of the committee include SRMC Vice President Marketing/Planning Debbie Pietrzak; Fred and Tom Baker of Salem Welding & Supply Company, who will build and seal the capsule; John and Jock Buta of Butech Bliss who will supply the marker; Russell Loudon of Stark Memorial Inc., who will provide the vault; and DeSalvo Construction, for digging and filling the hole.

Without them and Allio, Hoffmeister said they wouldn’t have been able to do this project. They’re all donating their time and material.

“We are so grateful to them for their generosity which allows us to preserve this piece of hospital history,” she said.

SRMC will hold a family day open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 25 for visitors to take self-guided tours of the new patient room tower facility, which will include a concourse and first floor walkway connecting the new structure with the existing hospital building. On Jan. 26, there will be a community open house from 2 to 5 p.m., with the time capsule burial at 2 p.m. outside, followed by the dedication of the patient room tower inside.