The First Babies at the New Hospital in 1964
First babies at new hospitals are exciting for staff, giving them a chance to try out new birthing rooms and equipment to welcome their smallest patients into the world.
In 1964 when Brookings Hospital first opened at its current location on Twenty-Second Avenue, a wave of 100 babies were born in less than two-and-a-half months. But both the first and the third baby born at the hospital were very lucky to make it home.
Vickie, daughter of Omar and Lynne Olson, arrived at 3:45 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 6, and was the first baby born at the new hospital. Lynne experienced placenta previa, a condition in which the baby’s placenta grows over the mother’s cervix. She started bleeding severely and was rushed by ambulance to Brookings Hospital.
“They were still moving,” said Omar. “The ambulance driver had to call and ask if he should take Lynne to the old or the new hospital.”
Once at the new hospital, things progressed quickly.
“They called the doctor in and I was taken to the OR,” said Lynne. “I was the first surgical patient and had a C-section.”
Vickie weighed 4 lbs., 13 oz. and neither her nor her mother were quite out of the woods after her birth.
“Lynne is Catholic and they gave the last rights to both her and the baby,” said Omar. “I was scared to death.”
The next day another baby girl, Barb (Begalka) Mogler arrived at 1:20 a.m. on Labor Day, Sept. 7. About 12 weeks early and baptized immediately at the hospital, Barb wasn’t supposed to arrive until after Thanksgiving.
Barb’s family lived up by Estelline at the time, and both of her parents worked for farmers in the area. Her mother had chicken out and was ready to cook when she started going into labor on Saturday, Sept. 5, the day they moved patients from the old hospital to the new one.
“Mom and Dad said that they were still moving in the new hospital and had to go to the old hospital to get the incubator for me,” said Barb. “I am thankful to be alive because I only weighed 2 lbs., 11 oz.”
In fact, staff had to quickly move isolettes, incubators specifically for premature infants, for both girls to the new hospital. Today premature babies are often rushed to a NICU to give them their best chance at survival. But in 1964, both Vickie and Barb stayed at the Brookings Hospital nursery until they weighed 5 lbs.
“They were worried about Vickie,” said Lynne. “Her low birth weight and her breathing weren’t good.” Vickie ended up staying at the hospital for over a month before she reached a point to go home with Lynne.
Barb finally reached her 5 lbs. weight goal closer to her original due date in November, two months after Barb’s mother was discharged on Sept. 9. Her parents were by her side every day, hoping and praying to take her home. Soon after she was finally released from the hospital, Barb came down with the mumps, giving her parents an added challenge to caring for her.
Despite the challenges they faced, both girls had fight in them and survived. Today, Vickie lives in Minneapolis. Barb works for Brookings Health System at The Neighborhoods at Brookview nursing home. She is a homemaker, helping to prepare meals and cook for the residents, a job she loves and feels like she was born to do.
“Born here, baptized here[at the hospital]. My kids were born here; my grandkids were born here. I started working here and my family works here. I got engaged at the hospital because my second husband knew I loved this job so much,” said Barb. “I’ve always felt like I’ve had a purpose to be here.”
About Brookings Health System
Brookings Health System, located in Brookings, South Dakota, includes a 49-bed hospital, the 79-bed The Neighborhoods at Brookview nursing home, Brookhaven Estates senior living apartments, Yorkshire Eye Clinic, and medical clinics in Arlington, White and Volga, South Dakota. It is a non-profit, city-owned facility that offers the community a full range of inpatient, outpatient, surgical and extended care services. The emergency room is staffed 24 hours a day and provides around the clock patient needs ranging from minor injuries to life threatening crises. For more information about the services offered at Brookings Health System, please call (605) 696-9000 or visit us on the Web at brookingshealth.org.