Saying goodbye to Swanson with memories

Image with caption: Swanson Hall
Swanson Hall
UNMC staffers offer their memories of Swanson Hall:

Sonja Cox, program coordinator, M.D./Ph.D. Scholars Program
When they started counting the ceiling tiles in my office in Wittson Hall in 2006, I knew there was a move in my future . . . and it turned out to be Swanson Hall third floor. . . . This building had a history (love history), and I began to imagine all of the parents with children that had walked into this building, some looking for a miracle. I always love the feeling of being surrounded by history, and that's the feeling I had about Swanson Hall. Whenever I got the chance to take a prospective student here for the M.D./Ph.D. Scholars Program through Swanson Hall on our way to interviews and meetings, I would always mention Swanson Hall's first purpose.

A Mouse Tale

At least one mouse owes its life to animal-loving employees like myself who disassembled Robin Taylor's typewriter on the porch of Swanson. That mouse ran for its life; probably beat us back to Robin's office. The story was made even funnier by the fact that Robin is terrified of mice and initially thought the mouse had run off. I was standing and talking to her, and right before the bloodcurdling scream, the mouse stood up on its hind legs on a pile of books and looked over Robin's shoulder at me and winked a mischievous wink. The rest is history.

Susan Smith, manager, Faculty/Employee Assistance Program

Dee Acquazzino, cystic fibrosis pediatric clinical coordinator
Before it became Swanson Hall, it was Children's Hospital. As a pediatric hospital, it retained some pediatric nuances even after Swanson opened. For example, I loved to direct our male visitors to the men's restroom across from our offices because it was still equipped with a children's bathtub. And the women's restroom adjacent to our office had a standing weight scale in it used to weigh patients when they were hospitalized.

While it was still the original Children's Hospital, I would occasionally go over to do a special test on inpatients on the wards. We diagnosed many patients with CF as a result of this test on those wards. When Children's moved and the building became Swanson Hall and our section moved there, my office ended up being located in the exact spot as the wards where we had diagnosed all those patients and were still caring for them. What a strange coincidence!

Tancy Ellis, pediatric nephrology nurse
When I was 3 years old in 1953, my tonsils were taken out at the then Children's Hospital. The anesthesiologist used a cloth filled with ether. It threatened to strangle me before putting me to sleep. The smell can be conjured up 60 years later! I was in a dozen-bed ward where my parents could visit only a half an hour a day. I remember having been told that having my tonsils out would mean that I would "never have a sore throat again," and I woke from the operation having a vicious sore throat!


Fill out the following and your comment will post once it has been approved.

Thank you, your comment will appear below once it has been approved.

Sandy Goetzinger-Comer
May 28, 2013 at 11:34 AM

When I was 18 months old, my mom couldn't wake me up one day. She called our pediatrician, Dr. Lombardo, who had them rush me to Children's. They were waiting for me (my mom said) at the door. I had spinal meningitis. I was in a coma for a long time, with a nurse on 24 hour duty. Fortunately, I recovered thanks to the quick diagnosis and great care. Fast forward to 1989 when I joined UNMC Public Affairs. For nearly 19 years I worked on 5th floor Swanson and enjoyed the variety of people who also occupied the building. I'm sorry to see it go but am pleased that this new cancer center will take it's place and continue a long tradition of helping people. Sandy Goetzinger-Comer

Carol Ann Brandt
May 20, 2013 at 10:30 AM

My daughter, Katie, was born in 1980 and had an initial bout with jaundice. We have photos of her in an incubator under bilirubin lights in a first floor room just off the main lobby to the left when Swanson Hall was still part of Children's Hospital. A few years later, her father who was initially here as a Biochemistry grad student on a Swanson fellowship and subsequently as a medical student, had his rat lab down a west hallway just past her former hospital room. We frequently visited on Saturdays and brought lunch to Dad and to see the "rats" along with her little brother, Adam. Carol Ann (Hart) Brandt, Administrative Associate II, Chancellor's Office

Laura Shafer
May 20, 2013 at 10:21 AM

It actually didn't occur to me until I started seeing the tributes how many prominent researchers and scientists got their start in SWH. That itself is a legacy. I don't think there was a square inch of that building that doesn't hold a memory for me, including the number of times I was caught smoking on the loading dock or having my car towed from Lot 30! We love you Swanson Hall. You will live forever in our hearts.

Robin Taylor
May 17, 2013 at 12:27 PM

A Mouse Tale --- more to the story There's a bit more to the story --- I was talking to Dr. Gendelman , who was in Israel at the time, when I realized there was a mouse on my desk. I screamed, jumped on my chair (he heard the scream but didn't see the jump). Dr. Gendelman says what's wrong--- I'm screaming, "Mouse on my desk, mouse on my desk." He said, "goodbye" and hung up. The mouse ran off, later appeared poking it's head out of a typewriter when I screamed again and yes, Susan Smith came to the rescue ---- of the mouse not me. I loved working in Swanson Hall -- great memories. It had character that will be missed.

Renee Cook
May 17, 2013 at 11:29 AM

I remember having a hernia and was a patient when it was Children's Hospital. All I can remember is my mom taking me and being put in a baby bed with high bars (the bars were taller than me), my mom leaving me and I'm standing up in the bed holding on to the bars as if I were in jail crying my eyes out. Renee Cook

Mary Haven
May 17, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Springtime in Swanson: We change our normal routine to enter between the two wings of Swanson on the south side so we can smell the blooming crabapples on each side of our walk and the old fashioned lilacs as we mount the stairs to the building. There is no more beautiful place on the UNMC campus. I will take this stroll on Friday for the last time wishing I had a way of bottling those fragrances and preserving this beauty. I spent 11 wonderful years in an office in Swanson. This office had large windows which significantly expanded my horizons. As a laboratory person in my previous life, I had always been confined to basements or enclosed interior spaces. Swanson Hall was my first exposure to seeing the light of day during working hours. Swanson seemed to nourish a community of colleagues working hard and loving every minute of it. We didn't have glamorous offices but that was completely unimportant. Thanks for the memories.

Mike Berney
May 17, 2013 at 9:14 AM

I recall a surgery there at Children's Hospital when I was only 6 yrs old. I had a Tracheotomy at Children's Hospital due to severe case of Croup cough. I often wondered what room I was in every time I walked through the Swanson building.

Say goodbye to Swanson today

The Swanson Hall tribute ceremony will be held at 2:30 p.m. today on the east steps of Swanson Hall.

UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D., will provide remarks, along with Gary Perkins, president and CEO of Children's Hospital & Medical Center. Refreshments also will be provided.

Swanson Hall will be razed for construction of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, a project that includes a multidisciplinary outpatient clinic, the 98-lab Suzanne and Walter Scott Cancer Research Tower and the CL Werner Cancer Hospital, with 108 beds dedicated to oncology patients.

Completion of the cancer center is expected in 2016.