When I think of the 20th anniversary of Fairview Northland Medical Center in Princeton, I think of two mothers and their newborn babies being in two worlds. Or should we say two hospitals, the old and the new.
This is born out of personal experience, and a clue here is that my daughter is almost exactly the same age as Fairview Northland.
The old hospital, in this case, was the structure at 706 First St. in downtown Princeton that was the town’s medical center for many years. That is, until July 26, 1993, when the new hospital opened at 911 Northland Drive.
The latter hospital sits on high ground less than a mile west of the signal lights at Northland Drive and Rum River Drive South, overlooking the Highway 169 bypass. It is in Sherburne County, a location specifically desired by Fairview officials to take advantage of better federal reimbursement rates than in Mille Lacs where the other hospital stood.
Today the former hospital building has Princeton School District offices and preschool classrooms, with an adjoining part housing the police department and city hall. The adjoining section was once the medical clinic when the old hospital was operating.
Now here is why I think of two mothers and their newborns in two different hospitals when I think of the 20th anniversary of Fairview Northland.
Two decades ago on July 23, 1993, doctors in the old hospital delivered my daughter Bailey by C-section to my wife Marlene. When the new hospital opened three days later and the old one closed, Marlene was not ready, under the protocol then, for discharge with Bailey. So Fairview arranged for a local senior citizen van to transport Marlene, Bailey and, according to hospital records, one other mother and her baby, from the closing hospital to the new one. The July 29, 1993, Union-Eagle has a photo covering the transporting of the two mothers and their babies. The transfer worked and both Marlene and Bailey are doing fine today. I have not been able to locate the other mother.
Marlene has been a longtime nurse for the local Fairview hospital, so having a local hospital has also helped our family that way. But beyond this personal experience, having a hospital in town is a great asset for local people to quickly access a myriad of health services.
The hospital has since had remodelling and addition projects and is in the stage for another significant addition.
Of course, the building is only a structure. I have witnessed many very dedicated and skilled employees working at Fairview Northland, from nurses, doctors and technicians to the intrepid maintenance and security crews.
I have some personal experiences attached to both the new and old hospitals that go beyond transporting a mother and baby. Both our daughters, for example, were born in the old hospital and I will never forget the evening when we took our first-born daughter Brianna home from that hospital. It was snowing lightly and we could see the blue-lighted hospital sign on the front of the hospital as we carried Brianna in a bundle to the car.
We have since lost Brianna and will always feel the loss of that special person. Bailey, meanwhile, thrives as a young college student with dreams of helping people someday through her studies in sociology. She turned 20 on July 23, three days short of the hospital turning 20.
Catie Eggen, human resources director for the Fairview Northland Hospitals in Princeton and Maple Grove, said this week that generally speaking, mothers and their newborns are not kept in hospitals today as long as they were in 1993. So if Marlene and the other woman today were in the situation they were back then, they would likely be discharged and not brought to another hospital.
Just a footnote to the 20th anniversary of the town’s medical center.
Joel Stottrup is a reporter with the Princeton Union-Eagle. Reach him by email at [email protected]