Answers: Questions about motorized wheelchairs, drug tests, Blessing Hospital and Riverbluff

This photo was taken on the steps of Blessing Hospital in 1891. It was given to the hospital administrator sometime in 1950s by the young man on the left in the photograph. (Photo Courtesy of Blessing Hospital)
Posted: May. 17, 2013 7:28 pm Updated: Nov. 28, 2014 3:40 pm


When I trained as a medical technologist at Blessing Hospital in 1964-65, my parents in New Mexico assumed it was a church-related institution. Just recently a friend told me she also assumed that was its history. It certainly has blessed my life, for which I am grateful. Where did it get its name?

Arlis Dittmer, coordinator of library services for the Blessing Health Professions Library, did the research for this one. There is no clear answer, however.

A group of prominent citizens, who had been providing relief for the poor and indigent in the winters since 1869, decided to form an official incorporated group with the state of Illinois. Having an association of members was a typical way to start a hospital. A person could pay a one-time fee and become a member with voting rights. The association also was given funds by local governmental agencies.

The association was originally formed in 1873 under the name, "The Charitable Aid and Hospital Association of Quincy" with the organizational purpose to be "relief and support of sick, destitute and dependent persons and the establishment and maintenance of an Infirmary and Hospital."

The association had two membership categories, lay and clerical. The clerical membership consisted of not less than 12 ministers of religion in charge of churches in the city of Quincy. A specific religious affiliation never was made, but it was supported as a charity by the protestant churches, the B'nai Sholom Temple and people within the community. St. Mary previously was established in 1869 and was supported by the Catholic churches. Both hospitals accepted patients of any denomination.

When the hospital opened in May 1875, it was called Blessing Hospital. The first published report on the hospital was printed in 1877, and a Bible verse is on the cover: "Blessed be the man that provideth for the sick and needy, the Lord shall deliver him in time of trouble." There are no clear records of why the hospital was named Blessing other than local lore of "a blessing to the community."

A contest was started in conjunction with a building fund drive in 1957. According to a June 2, 1957, article in The Herald-Whig, contestants had to complete the sentence, "I believe (the name) Blessing was selected because ..." That contest is the origin of the rumor of Lily Blessing, beloved and dead fiancee of William Bull and/or Matthias Denman (owner of the land), as the story was sent in by two different people who won first and second prize. Denman was dead by 1875, and his widow would not have consented to name a hospital after another woman. Bull was a founder of the association.

To make the issue even murkier, when Sarah Denman died in 1882, her friends and associates decided to change the name to Sarah Denman Hospital. At that time, she was president of the Board of Lady Managers who were in charge of the hospital. They voted on May 29, 1882, to change the name, and it lasted unofficially for about one year. The trustees eventually told the ladies they did not have the authority to change the name, and it never was legally done.


Why are people in motorized wheelchairs allowed to be out in the street where sidewalks are available? So many of our street corners have been made handicap accessible.

The Illinois Vehicle Code states that every person operating a motorized wheelchair on a sidewalk or roadway shall be granted all the rights and shall be subject to all the duties applicable to a pedestrian. However, if sidewalks are available, pedestrians in motorized wheelchairs are in violation of the code.

Neal Meyer, traffic safety officer for the Quincy Police Department, says officers have the option to issue warnings or citations for violations. The violations generally would need to be observed by a police officer before enforcement action is taken.

"We realize that some areas in Quincy do not have handicapped accessible curbs available," Meyer said. "However, if this is the case, that pedestrian would have to maneuver on the left side of the road, as close to the curb as possible, and move against traffic (which is the same for a pedestrian walking) unless it is a one-way road."

Meyer encourages the public to report violations.


Do city and county employees and officials get random drug tests?

Les Post, chairman of the Adams County Board, says the county does not have a policy that requires all employees or elected officials to submit to random drug testing. Any Adams County employees who possess a commercial driver's license (CDL) as part of their employment requirements are subject to random drug testing. However, those drug tests are required by state statute, not county policy.

Human resources director Doug Olson says the city follows policy established by the Department of Transportation for CDL holders, which includes random tests.


The other day I got a Facebook message from something called Riverbluff ... apparently this is the new name of the Elks Lodge. I used to be a member, but I'm out of the loop now. Have you heard anything? What's going on?

Riverbluff, 311 N. Second, is the theme name of the party/buffet area of Quincy Elks Lodge No. 100. The Elks have been at that site for more than two decades, and the Elks were incorporated in Quincy around 1880.

David Gill, exalted ruler of the lodge, says the decision to change the name was done to help let people know that the facility is available for rental. The theme name of Riverbluff was used because it overlooks the Mississippi.

"The Elks can't advertise," Gill said.

The party/buffet area has been leased out for parties and wedding receptions for several years, but the renaming of the area allows for promotion. To date, the only promotion has been done on social media.

"That's what helps support our charities and keeps our people employed," Gill said. "We lease it out for all kinds of things. There's no secret we do that."




Curious about anything going on in your community? Just ask. We'll quiz community leaders, business officials, historians, educators ... whoever can tell us what you want to know. Questions and responses are published Saturday.

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