As we find our way through this global pandemic, it is a good time to reflect on medical care in Greeley’s history.
In the early 1900s, a hospital was located at the site of today’s Island Grove Regional Park. This combination hospital/nursing home was surrounded by 4 or 5 acres, which were planted in row crops. The building offered many “modern” features such as an operating room on the second floor and — for safety’s sake — a covered, tube-style fire escape.
The main hospital building featured a very modern “resuscitator” machine, as well as running hot water, steam heat and electric lights throughout. The hospital served Weld County through the 1920s and was eventually torn down.
There was also a smaller, single-story “isolation hospital” north of the Island Grove Hospital, commonly called the “Pest House.” It served to quarantine those with very contagious diseases. In order to alert the public to the dangers of the Pest House, a colored flag would be flown to signal the diseases of the day. A yellow-orange flag, for example, would alert people to the presence of small pox.
This low-tech system was quite effective — with one small hitch. On one occasion, the neighbor’s goat ate the warning flag!
As the citizens of Greeley did in years past, please take precautions and stay safe.
Written by Carolyn Bowra, former Lead Interpreter for the City of Greeley Museums
Originally published in the Greeley Tribune Friday, March 27, 2009