A couple months ago we took a look inside the Iola tuberculosis hospital on Westfall Road. The buildings have since been demolished. But for Marilyn Casserino, 79, those photos triggered memories, and questions that will linger on…
On July 24, Marilyn saw the photos posted here by Sarah Barnes and felt compelled to tell her story in the comments. She pleaded:
I try to put myself in Marilyn’s shoes, but I can’t. Being a patient in a this hospital, away from home with all these strangers; and at just six years old having to deal with such a loss. Now, after a lifetime, all that’s left are very faint memories of that place. The place she said goodbye to her mom.
This is heavy. I had to try to find some answers for Marilyn.
I contacted her and she sent me this photo of her with seven other children on the roof of Iola. She’s the one in the center – in the dark dress. Marilyn says she would like to know how long she and her mom were at the hospital. And she also wishes she knew who the other children in the photo were.
So I called around to see if I could find old patient records from Iola. And I did… right where I might expect to find them, at Monroe Community Hospital’s patient records office. The good people there dusted off several big old books of patient names from the mid 1930’s to 1940’s. Imagine my surprise when I cracked them open and found this…
Each book contains 200 to 300 pages – probably 10,000 names. Not digitized. Not searchable on a computer. Not alphabetical. Not even typed. All handwritten and entered in the order the patients were admitted to the hospital.
But all I know are the names of the patients, Marilyn and Vivian Casserino… and the date Vivian died: January 19, 1940. That means I’d have to scan over thousands of handwritten names line by line, backwards in time from 1940. So I did.
Over the course of two afternoons I searched all the way back to October 1, 1937. I found a Carmello Casserino, a Joseph Casserino, and a Russell Casserino – Marilyn’s grandfather and her two uncles, who at various times were admitted to Monroe Community Hospital. Unfortunately, I found no Marilyn and no Vivian.
I’ve come up empty. Now the question is, if Vivian died on January 19, 1940, and if she is in one of those books, how far back should I reasonably need to search?
Marilyn says she thinks she may have been there for as long as a year and a half. But was it typical for TB patients to be treated for a year? Two years? THREE years or more?
Tags: abandoned, abandoned places, AJ Costello & Son, Brighton, City Gate, CityGate, Costco, development, East Henrietta Road, historic preservation, Iola Campus, Iola Tuberculosis Sanatorium, Marilyn Casserino, Monroe Community Hospital, Monroe County, preservation, Rochester, Rochester history, Rochester NY, rochester photos, Vivian Casserino, Westfall Road
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