MONROE - Historic gold was struck recently at Monroe's Mercy Memorial Hospital.
While chiseling a concrete cornerstone as part of a $33 million renovation project, workers hit a 1929 time capsule.
Relics found in a copper box included religious medallions, prayer cards, a palm leaf, a religious statue, local newspaper articles, school handbooks, and a glass container that may have holy water.
Today's Mercy Memorial hospital system is an outgrowth of two separate hospitals that were created in Monroe for the public at large during the 1920s. Infirmaries associated with an orphanage and a facility for blind children also once existed.
One of the general hospitals, founded by Lutherans, was first known as Monroe Hospital and later Memorial Hospital.
The second, known as Mercy Hospital, was founded by Catholics.
In 1928, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Kalamazoo, Mich., raised $206,000 in seven days. Mercy Hospital opened in 1929 at a cost of $253,000.
Tonsillectomies were one of the popular surgeries at the time.
Despite all the changes that have occurred since then in the medical industry, it appears the sisters took a forward-looking approach with Mercy Hospital.
Barry McDonald, the hospital's vice president of business and strategy said the hospital's H-shape design makes it easier to expand.
The $33 million renovation project began July 12. It is to be completed by April.
The hospital's silent fund-raising campaign raised $5 million. Mr. McDonald said he hopes the public campaign - which began Tuesday - will raise $10 million.
The first phase, the renovated lobby, is to be completed in mid-August.
The Mercy Memorial Hospital System has been losing business to hospitals in Toledo, Detroit, and Ann Arbor.
The hospital's emergency department is one of the only parts of the hospital that has seen an increase in visitors over the last few years.
In 1997, the emergency department was rebuilt to accommodate 25,000 visits per year, but during the last few years it has received about 40,000 visits annually.
A new emergency room to accommodate 60,000 visitors annually will be built at a cost of about $5.5 million.
The hospital also will renovate its south wing technical and radiology center at a cost of about $3.7 million.
It also will add cardiac catheterization, a suite in which special procedures will be performed, a Mammotome Breast Biopsy system, iE33 and iU22 ultrasound systems, and a PACS filmless radiology system.
Also in 2005, the surgery department had 10,700 cases.
A new department, costing about $6.5 million, will be built on the first floor that will allow for 13,000 cases a year.