In 2010, St Joseph Mercy Health System closed the inpatient facility at Saline Hospital and two years later the surgery center was also closed. Last year brought the closing of the emergency room.
The ER was replaced with an urgent care facility, which was moved several miles east this summer to 7025 E. Michigan Avenue. Lab and radiology services were also moved to the new location.
When the ER was closed the last of those who had served as volunteers at the hospital over the years were no longer needed. Throughout its 55-year history, a group of local ladies, formerly known as the Women’s Auxiliary, provided essential volunteer and fundraising services for Saline’s own community hospital.
One of these women was Dorothy Bredernitz. When the volunteer organization was thriving, she was the manager of the Cheeriosity Gift Shop at the hospital. As things wound down, she was among the last volunteers to leave.
In the later years of the organization, women had less free time to commit to volunteer activities. As our culture shifted, many worked outside of the home. A few men joined the volunteers.
Last May, after the Saline ER had closed, the St. Joseph Healthcare System, now part of Trinity Health, held an honorary luncheon for some of the volunteers. The event was not publicized, so few in the community were able to recognize these ladies for their contributions to our community.
Fortunately they made a group photo and Bredernitz made it available to the Post. The 21 volunteers shown are only those who were able to attend the event. There have been many more, but these 21 can stand as representatives of the larger group.
For example, Rachel Woods, seated in the front row, is the daughter of Mary Woods. Mary, now deceased, was one of the original volunteers in 1959 and served as the group’s president for several of the early years. Rachel continued her mother’s work.
The signs in the lawn at 224 W. Michigan Ave. direct people to the new hospital facilities near the intersection of Michigan Avenue and State Road. The old building was purchased by Saline Hospital about 25 years ago and used for various functions, including office space, women’s health and migrant health.
This remnant of the old Saline Hospital is also being repurposed. It has been donated to Saline Area Social Service and will serve as their new headquarters after it is refurbished.
Curiously, this colonial revival style home, built around 1912 was once owned by the family of Dorothy Bredernitz’ husband.