Sat. Dec 3rd, 2022

KEOKUK — It was quiet outside Blessing Health Keokuk on Friday in the hours leading up to its permanent closure at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

The 49-bed nonprofit hospital’s 151 employees had spent the previous days clearing out personal items. Patients had stopped being seen there at 7 a.m. Traffic in and out of its doors had thinned to a slow crawl. 

“It’s sad,” said Denise Stutes of Keokuk. “It’s not registering very well. … We just said our goodbyes.”

Stutes had been working there since 2006, she explained as she left the hospital for the last time. But, like many Keokuk residents, her history with the building dates to much earlier.

“A lot of people were born here,” she said. “I was born here.”

Denise Stutes of Keokuk heads out of Blessing Health Keokuk for the last time Friday. Stutes had worked at the hospital since 2006 and was born there.

Stutes remembers her mother telling her about a nurse, Linda Daughters, who helped her and was good to her before they had to send her to Iowa City for a month in the neonatal intensive care unit. She understands the importance of a hospital to help in those first urgent moments.

One example of what will be missing for Keokuk residents came Friday, when Missy Guymon pulled up outside the ER with her son, Dylan, 12, who was hurting from an injury on the football field.

They were turned away.

“Looks like we are going to drive to Fort Madison,” Guymon said.

“It’s the end of it,” Dylan said before perking up at the idea of getting ice cream on the way back home.



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