U marks 100th aniversary of medical building

A $120,000 gift from a donor’s estate made the building possible in 1911.

by Greta Kaul

In 1911, Frank Wesbrook, the dean of the University of MinnesotaâÄôs College of Medicine and Surgery, presided over the dedication of Elliot Memorial Hospital, the UniversityâÄôs brand new medical building.

With new wings and additions, Elliot Memorial Hospital, now called the Mayo Building, doesnâÄôt look much like it did a hundred years ago. Neither does the University medical campus, which has grown from one building with 115 beds to many disparate ones with nearly 2,000 beds between them.

In 1911, there were no antibiotics. Influenza and pneumonia were the leading causes of death, and average life expectancy was 47, according to a press release by the UniversityâÄôs Academic Health Center. The UniversityâÄôs health services and infrastructure were similarly primitive, amounting to a few small buildings.

It was philanthropy that got the new hospital on its feet, namely a $120,000 gift from the estate of Adolphus Elliot, a Minneapolis doctor, President Eric Kaler said from the podium at the event.

âÄúPhilanthropy is an important part of what we do,âÄù Kaler added, noting in todayâÄôs terms that the Elliot gift amounts to about $3 million. Subsidizing tuition and state support by increasing philanthropy will be a major focus of his presidency, he has said.

Kaler has also been critical of the LegislatureâÄôs decreasing support, which now amounts to 18 percent of the UniversityâÄôs budget.

University Medical School Dean Aaron Friedman  echoed KalerâÄôs call for more state support.

âÄúWe have been slow to recognize medical education as a matter of public concern,âÄù Friedman said, applying a quote Wesbrook gave at the original dedication to the current issue of state support.

The board is hopeful for more state support for medical education. In September, the board added a new Ambulatory Care Center to its Legislative wish list. If it is funded, the center will re-centralize many of the UniversityâÄôs medical facilities and increase the medical schoolâÄôs capacity to research and treat patients.

âÄúI sincerely hope the state regains its appreciation for health professions,âÄù Friedman said. âÄúIt does require ongoing investment to be effective.âÄù