Sunday, May 22, 2022

Name This Mystery Equipment


I just love hospital mysteries, so I was delighted when a nurse emailed me these photos of a vintage device found in the ER at a Catholic Hospital, St. Vincents, in Cleveland, Ohio. The folks there were unable to identify it and it didn't ring any bells with me so I was thinking (a rare event for me) that maybe someone from my vast readership could lend a clue.

My first guess was that this was some sort of contraption from the hospital laundry. After sheets were dumped from a gigantic steaming cauldron, they were run through rollers to squeeze off excess water. Those rollers were a serious entanglement hazard for the poor folks toiling in this hell with the lid off environment. I had a special place in my heart for the Hispanic crew that worked the hospital laundry. I would practice my lackluster Spanish with these friendly folks and marvel at how happy they were in such an oppressive environment. I had life easy compared to their hardships!

My next speculative theory involved the radiology department. Before the advent of automated film processors where raw exposed film was inserted in one end and a finished X-ray slid out the back, roller film processors were used to conserve developer and fixer. The exposed X-ray film was loaded into the roller processors in a darkroom and chemicals introduced by a light proof port. The drum rolled which sloshed the entire film with chemical. You did not need any signage to find the radiology department, just follow the pungent smell of fixer with your proboscis!

My next brainstorm (more likely a brain fart) was this was a dispenser for the giant rolls of paper used to cover exam tables. Handling these giant rolls of paper always reminded me of octopus wrestling-get one end secured and the other end would pop up.

I did contact Oldfoolette. a central supply queen, from the dark ages and she could not identify it as any medical device. So perhaps the notion of this being a piece of hospital equipment was a cognitive disruption entity. We did have some whacky things in our ER that came in with patients and stayed behind in the ER.

We had a Chicago CTA turnstile from the Ravenswood El station that ensnared a fare jumpers lower extremities as he tried to vault over it and save 35 cents. Chicago's finest brought him in turnstile and all. I have a previous post about a poor soul who froze to death in a Chicago Park District garbage can. We kept the can and every time I read that HELP KEEP CHICAGO CLEAN slogan my heart skipped a beat. We kept the tunstile and trash can. Don't ask me why.

Any guesses about the identity of the above object would be most welcome!