I had promised myself, after the first day of demolition of Dorchester General Hospital, that I wasn't going to go back to watch anymore. It was too difficult to see the destruction of years of history, millions of dollars of endowments, and the thousands of patients and staff that had passed through the doors throughout the decades.
I reflected on why this was so hard to see ... why was I so emotional about this building? That's because it wasn't just a "building." It was an era of community health care.
I was born in that hospital. I spent several hospitalizations there as a young child for asthma. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Dorchester General Hospital sponsored a program through the local middle schools called "Medical Explorers."
The program allowed students to go to the hospital on a weekly basis and have different staff members explain their jobs to them (i.e. nursing, ultrasound, respiratory therapy) which gave the students an opportunity to think about various careers. It was through this program that I decided to become a nurse.
When I graduated high school, I was granted a substantial scholarship through the DGH Auxiliary, as long as I committed to work at Dorchester General when I graduated. Many of my fellow nursing graduates went on to work at bigger hospitals, but not me.
I was a hometown girl and very much wanted to come back to work with my community members to serve Dorchester County. Upon my college graduation, I was immediately hired in the Emergency Room at DGH and spent the next 23 years, over half of my life, as an active "family" member of Dorchester General.
After thinking about how much this "building" meant to me, I changed my mind. I went back to pay my final respects to the institution that had so dramatically shaped my life.
The ER entrance was still standing alone, detached from the rubble. I picked up some broken bricks, which are the final remnants of our community hospital.
I shaped them into a heart and placed it in my garden. That is what I have left now - the shape of a heart that will remain inside my heart.
Ms. Richardson is a registered nurse who resides in Woolford.