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Hospital bills

By today’s measure, hospital bills from St. Charles’ early days look quaint.

One written to Mrs. A.C. Gowdy of Silver Lake enumerates the charges for a December 1930 surgery and hospitalization at $128.80.

That included $10 for the anesthetist, $1.80 for “extras” and $102 for 17 days hospitalization at $6 per day. A fifth line adds $5 with a note beside it that says “Surgery Dec. 16.”

In a handwritten history of St. Charles’ early days, an anonymous sister wrote in 1934: “First check for a room in new wing received from Mr. and Mrs. Frank Prince and Mrs. George Prince ($294.50).”

Of course, a dollar was harder to come by then with the economy mired in the Great Depression. Years later, Sister Catherine Hellmann would tell of patients paying their bills with chickens or eggs. And by the late 1940s, the hospital was in financial trouble because of unpaid bills.

Date: December 6, 2017