One hundred years from now, St. Louis University Hospital officials may open the time capsule that hospital officials buried Thursday, and maybe they will scratch their heads.
Inside they’ll find a stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff, pagers and even four vacuum-sealed turkey sandwiches.
“They say white bread has a lot of preservatives,” St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson joked to the crowd of about three dozen people who gathered in the hospital lobby still under construction at Grand Boulevard and Chouteau Avenue. “I probably won’t be able to see how those preservatives have held the bread up.”
The ceremony celebrated the home stretch of construction for the new SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital, which is set to open Sept. 1.
Krewson noted that the $550 million hospital is among $100 billion worth of projects recently completed or about to be completed in St. Louis.
The time capsule, made of composite plastic that’s meant to withstand water and extreme temperatures, has 6 cubic feet of space. Employees and SSM Healthcare archivist Scott Grimwood managed to pack it with more than 150 items.
There are old hospital T-shirts, badges, a list of current hospital employees and the leadership organization chart, a map of the campus, and letters from present-day nurses and physicians to nurses and physicians of the future.
As for the turkey sandwiches? They’re a trusty hospital staple, something always available to hungry nurses or patients after the hospital kitchens close.
“Basically, this is a gift to the future from the present staff of St. Louis University Hospital,” said Grimwood, referring to the contents of the box.
The sandwiches expired Thursday.
Grimwood helped create a similar time capsule for a hospital in Mount Vernon and opened one last year pulled from the cornerstone of a convent behind St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond Heights. That one contained newspapers, religious medallions and prayer cards.
The capsule buried Thursday also includes a Stanley Cup flag to honor the Blues’ win, two lapel pins from Krewson, copies of Thursday’s New York Times and Post-Dispatch, and photographs of the current hospital from the past 88 years.
Hospital president Steven Scott contributed a hard copy of the 589-page academic affiliation agreement just signed between the university and SSM Healthcare. Robert Wilmott, a Cardinals fan and dean of St. Louis University’s School of Medicine, contributed a baseball jersey.
Grimwood said he does not think there is a time capsule buried at the old hospital building, because one was not mentioned in accounts of the 1931 cornerstone ceremony.
As ceremony attendees waited inside, workers stepped outside into the 90-degree heat to bury the capsule just to the left of the main entrance. An engraved slab marks the spot.
The Rev. Christopher Collins, assistant to the president of mission and identity at the university, offered a blessing for the time capsule and construction project.
“I’m reminded each prayer is a time capsule that we give to God,” he said. “You never know when, where and how God will answer it, but he will answer it.”