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In the era of telecare and online consultations, we can take for granted health care was not always a call or click away. Before the construction of Vermillion’s Dakota Hospital in 1935, residents of Clay and neighboring counties relied on a series of private hospitals in Vermillion, sometimes located in converted homes or hotels. Spearheaded by the Dakota Hospital Foundation, the formation of a three-story brick building was a modern medical marvel and a literal lifesaver for community members. The response to news that the building – where so many Vermillionites had been born, healed or passed away – would be demolished for the new Sanford Vermillion Medical Clinic was understandably mixed. “It really meant something for the folks that were here,” says Jerry Yurtzenka, Vermillion resident and associate professor in Biomedical Sciences at USD. “I look at it as sometimes you have to destroy those old icons in order to build and have a great facility.”
To commemorate the boosterism required to build the original building as well as the memories it housed, the Dakota Hospital Foundation turned to art. They commissioned sculptor and USD professor of art Christopher Meyer, who invited “over 150 community members of all various backgrounds, ages, shapes and sizes to model for hand models.” Assembly, the resulting bronze sculpture, now stands where Dakota Hospital tended residents for some 80 years.
The documentary Celebrate. Remember: The Making of The Dakota Hospital Memorial Project captures the making of the sculpture.SDPB1: Thursday, July 12, 8pm (7 MT)
& Sunday, July 15, 1pm (Noon MT)