By Ralphine Major

It is my earliest memory of a hospital. St. Mary’s, the hospital on a hill, was always the closest to people in the northeast part of Knox and surrounding counties. My brother and I were born at St. Mary’s and have pictures of us with the Sisters of Mercy. As a small child, I remember sitting out on the front lawn of the hospital when our parents went to visit a friend or relative. We would pass the time near the circle drive on the grassy hillside leading up to the front of the hospital. There was a beautiful water fountain nearby, and the nursing school could be seen across the street. The serene setting disappeared over time with expansions to the hospital.

It was still St. Mary’s when our mother suffered a heart attack in 2007. I wrote about her cardiologist, Dr. Kyle McCoy, in “The Real McCoy,” Focus 2-7-11. The hospital’s name was changed to “Mercy” during her cardiac rehab. It was there that we met Barbara Sharpe who brought her parents to cardiac rehab. I wrote “Candy Apples at the Tennessee Valley Fair” for my 9-12-11 Focus column which featured Barbara’s father. Barbara was a candy striper for St. Mary’s during her high school years and now volunteers for Random Acts of Flowers. Many of us can identify with her heartfelt memories she shares below.

“Took a stroll down memory lane in the halls of St Mary’s Hospital. This was the place of my birth, the place where I learned the blessings both given and received from volunteering, the place where hours/days/weeks were spent at the bedside of my parents in their later years, the place of prayers and healing, the place where surgeons and nurses saved my father’s life and the place where he passed on to the next life with God ten years later. Like many others in North Knoxville, I was saddened by the decline of this faith-based place of care and am heartsick over its demise. It is a tragic loss for the community. Thank you Sisters of Mercy and staff for over eight decades of loving, dedicated care.”

The hospital’s name later became “Tennova.” A new facility was built in Powell, Tennessee, and we had the unique opportunity to tour the new hospital’s emergency room and patient rooms before they became occupied. In 2013, I wrote a column on the first pacemaker at Tennova North. It is ironic that I am in the middle of a series on the late Dr. A. D. Simmons who served on the Board at St. Mary’s Hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee. Thanks to Barbara Sharpe for this photo she took providing a fond memory of a special place!