Everyone has skeletons in their closet, including St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Crews were shocked to find one person left in St. Joe’s when they began cleaning it out in early spring 2012.
The full skeleton has been dubbed “Mr. Bones.” A maintenance worker uncovered him in the basement of the 88-year-old hospital when staff began cleaning it out last year to prepare for the open house and blessing of the hospital, which is slated for demolition.
“We went floor by floor, cleaning out every room, closet and drawer,” said Suzie Wood, executive director of development at Ottumwa Regional Health Center.
Mr. Bones had been hanging out in the closet for 70-80 years, Wood said, before the maintenance worker opened the closet door and was greeted with the gaunt face.
“But he’s been very well preserved,” Wood said. “He has all his teeth, his toes, his fingers and his vertebrae — even his cartilage is still attached.”
But staff have been unable to find any information on the identity of the man.
“I contacted the Sisters [of Humility], who have their archives of information on the hospital in Davenport,” Wood said. “They have archives and archives of photos and testimonials, but they have no record of him at all.”
Current ORHC employees even asked their parents and grandparents who had worked at St. Joe’s in the 1930s, 40s and 50s; nobody had ever heard of the skeleton.
The most accurate information hospital staff have found is that he was donated to St. Joe’s around 1937 or 1938 to be used as a teaching tool in the X-ray department.
And Mr. Bones is, in fact, a “mister.” Dr. Bradley Scott, an orthopedic surgeon at ORHC, confirmed his sex earlier this year. Scott also identified the man as being in his mid-80s when he died due to the structure of the bones.
“We think he died in the 1920s,” Wood said. “But we don’t know if he’s from here.”
Phil Dionne, CEO of ORHC, said Mr. Bones should be preserved, so he was encased last week to protect him from the elements.
Before he was encased, he had hung on a pole in Wood’s office.
“Every time the A/C would kick on his head turned and looked at me,” Wood said with a nervous laugh. “I would flip the lights on every day and say, ‘Good morning, Mr. Bones.’”
Other staff decided to prank Wood after they discovered Mr. Bones in the basement, knowing her penchant for ghost stories.
Wood had been cleaning on the fourth floor of St. Joe’s when workers in the basement buzzed her on her walkie talkie, saying they had something to show her.
“I pushed the elevator button to go down ... and he was in there,” Wood said.
In a video captured by another staff member, Wood can be heard letting out a blood-curdling scream as she laid her eyes on the skeleton.
He will soon be on display in ORHC for a public viewing before he’s shipped to the University of Iowa Medical Museum in early April.
“They were just thrilled to death,” Wood said. “They’ll further preserve him, because he has some dark spots right now from dust, dirt and air conditioning or a lack of air conditioning.”
Hopefully, the university will be able to conduct DNA testing on the skeleton, though that doesn’t seem likely to produce results, she said, since he was likely born in the 1840s.
“It may be a mystery forever,” she said.
If anybody has any information on Mr. Bones’ real identity or how he was used at the former teaching hospital, they can submit information at www.ottumwaregionalhealth.com by going under “Contact Us.”
Everyone has skeletons in their closet, including St. Joseph’s Hospital.
- CNHI/Southeast Iowa
Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'
In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.
Allergies are the real midlife crisis
One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.
Tax deduction for a gym membership?
April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?
Blue Zones kicks off in Osky
OSKALOOSA -- Blue Zones Project held its Oskaloosa Kickoff Monday evening at the Oskaloosa High School gym to help improve the community's health. Blue Zones originated with Dan Buettner of National Geographic. He was asked to find areas of the world
VIDEO: A year after marathon bombing, Boston remains strong
The City of Boston came together Tuesday to honor those who were injured and lost their lives at the Boston Marathon on the one-year anniversary of the bombing. While the day was sure to be emotional, those affected by last year's race are showing they won't let the tragedy keep them down.
Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet
Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
E-Cigarettes target youth with festivals, lawmakers say
The findings, in a survey released Monday by members of Congress, should prod U.S. regulators to curb the industry, the lawmakers said. While e-cigarettes currently are unregulated, the Food and Drug Administration is working on a plan that would extend its tobacco oversight to the products.
Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner
Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.
Why Facebook is getting into the banking game
Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.
State responds to gag order request
Marion County Attorney Ed Bull has filed a resistance, on behalf of the State of Iowa, to a motion made by Troy Neil Rider's defense attorney to restrict law enforcement's ability to comment on the pending case.
Motorist dies in one-vehicle accident Sunday
The crash involved a single vehicle on 170th Street.
Train, entertain your pets with these 3 smartphone apps
While they may not have thumbs to use the phone, pets can benefit from smartphone apps designed specifically for them.
Stepping forward: The real Colbert
Letterman changed the late-night TV game between his run on NBC's "Late Night" and starting the "Late Show" franchise in 1993. And while it's tough to replace a pop-culture icon, Colbert, in terms of pedigree and sense of humor, makes the most sense.
Millions of Android phones, tablets vulnerable to Heartbleed bug
Millions of smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system have the Heartbleed software bug, in a sign of how broadly the flaw extends beyond the Web and into consumer devices.
School Board, OEA agree to new contract
OSKALOOSA -- The Oskaloosa School Board agreed to a tentative agreement with the Oskaloosa Education Association at Tuesday's regular session. The agreement, which will be voted on the by the association later this week, will be a 3.6 percent increa
- More CNHI/Southeast Iowa Headlines
- Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'