Food trucks, Marble, Eisenhower, World War I, and walking through history at Anschutz


The end of Summer, and of the line up of Food Trucks throughout the every-Wednesday summer extravagance.

Until the brief fall and onset of winter, that means flowers, blue skies, a chance to get out of our own heads, our stuffy offices, our walled-off Ivory Tower, and look around.

For example, how many of my colleagues know the history of that building in the background? The poetically-named “Building 500” was originally the Army Recuperation Hospital, built in 1927 for veterans from the first World War.

Its entryway is comprised of amazing, art-deco white marble, mined from Marble, Colorado, the same marble that was used to build the Lincoln Memorial.

If you look carefully at the steps going up from Ground to First Floor, you can see where decades of soldier’s boots wore a rut into both the upgoing and downgoing marble stairs.

Building 500 is also the site of a tiny by-appointment-only museum of President Eisenhower’s hospital room. Eisenhower suffered a heart attack while playing golf on the Fitzsimons Army base, initially treated as indigestion by his Presidential physician. Subsequently recognized as a heart attack, he was promptly put to bedrest, and treated with oxygen and morphine, the state-of-the-art care in 1955. Eventually the White House Cabinet members traveled by train to Colorado, and buildings at Fitzsimons Army Base and the Lowry Air Force base became the “Western White House” for a month during Eisenhower’s recuperation.

The University’s chapter on this campus began in 1999, with the agreement that the Feds would “sell” this square mile to the University for the price of $1, transitioning this land to a non-profit organization essentially for free. As one of my colleagues so aptly said: “Free is great, if you can afford it.” Think about it.

Since then, the entirety of University of Colorado Hospital and its 60 clinics have arrived, as has Children’s Hospital of Colorado, and soon the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital for Colorado. The Anschutz Medical Campus contains these three organizations, as well as 5 healthcare schools in the education quadrangle including the University of Colorado “CU” School of Medicine. It also contains all the CU research labs in the Research Quadrangle. This land has since attracted the Well Simulation Center, a housing quadrangle, and a Bioscience Research Park, hosting innovative companies developing partnerships with the scientists on this campus. It is a great place to work.

CMIO’s take? There’s a lot to be said about institutional memory, our roots, and how we got to where we are.

Author: CT Lin

CMIO, UCHealth (Colorado); Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine

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