McGill Emergency Hospital

By Keith Gibson

The hospital is one of McGill’s greatest links to the “good ole days”.   The last time I was inside the place was in 1955 while working at the smelter.  I had been splattered with hot copper while hand punching a converter.  A small blob hit my left eyeball.

The foreman rushed me to the emergency hospital entrance under the canopy.  A quick knock on the door and Miss Bruce let us in .

Now, Nettie Bruce was a legend in her own time.  All kids from that era will remember one of her favorite sayings,  “oh, it can’t hurt that bad” as she stuck a gigantic needle in your arm.  The needle was modeled after a 16p. nail.  I think the pipe shop actually made the needles.  She had me get on the table so she could prep the area around my eye.

Dcc. Ririe came in and put some ointment in the eye then a piece of gauze and then a black eye patch.   At that moment someone knocked on the door.  Miss Bruce opened it and John Kinnear Sr. “the old man” came in to visit with his old friend, the Doc.  He was the President of KCC in New York and was visiting McGill.  He asked what was wrong and Doc said he needed to get me to the Steptoe Valley Hospital in Ely for further treatment.  Kinnear had me to get into the limo outside and told the driver to take me to the hospital and stay with me until the Doc was done and then to take me home.  That my friends is the kind of man, John Kinnear Sr. was.

The next time for me, was in 2012.  The whole place was different.  The first thing I missed was the smell of the disinfectant.

The next thing missing was the huge table in the middle of the waiting room, with the magazines all over the top.  I looked for the double doors with the frosty glass, that led into the main examining room, but they were gone.

Those were the doors that would suddenly open and Miss Nettie Bruce would stand there looking over the rims of her glasses for the next victim.  A shudder of fear would go over each kid sitting on the hard wooden benches.  She would pause to enhance the effect and then call out a name.

Once inside the room, the calm voice of Dr. Ririe, Dr. Hovenden or Dr. Smirnoff would soothe us back into the real world.

The west side of the waiting room was for the dentist, Dr. Tawney.  I don’t remember who his nurse was.  I do remember sitting there and hearing the screams of kids above the whine of Dr. Tawney’s drill.  That drill, I think was developed to drill for oil in Texas.

Next to the chair was the basin with the running water that you spit out the blood and tooth fragments into.  When he finished with the torture he gave us a small toy.  The small tykes he would hold  up by the ankles until they giggled.   Most of us still have the original fillings he put in for us, over 70 years ago.  Think about that!

We had some terrific medical people to take care of us.  The Docs made house calls back then.  There was a very personal relationship between patient and doctor.

Lots of memories in that place.  One that may surprise the young of today, was seeing the gas station across the street as you walked out onto the front porch.

It was tun by KCC and took the KCC coupons.  I have a picture of it somewhere.  If anybody has one, please let me know at P.O. Box 1315, McGill, Nv.  89218