(Photos: James Neiss)

    A time capsule placed inside a wall of Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport, New York was opened recently, just before its doors close permanently next month.  The capsule was placed in the outer wall of ENH on November 17, 1981.  The hospital team who dedicated the time capsule over 40 years ago wanted it to be opened in 2031, but plans changed when the facility learned it would be closing for financial reasons. 

    Hospital leaders decided to extract the copper box and invite the town to check out its contents in advance of the facility's closure. 

    In the crowd was former Lockport Mayor Tom Rotunda's wife and family, and Joanna Bennett who attended the time capsule placement when she was 8 years old.  She says the hospital became an important place for her after the time capsule ceremony all those years ago.  Bennett says she volunteered as a candy striper at the hospital, worked in the emergency room and in the drug rehab department at the hospital throughout her life.  She says, "I got married, I had children and grandchildren."

    In addition to 1980's-era medical equipment, medicine, supplies and an old  sonogram, the time capsule contained slides of illnesses that doctors hoped would be cured or better controlled by 2031.  ENH's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Slate read the note aloud, which mentioned four strains of leukemia, throat, bladder and kidney cancers, gonorrhea and sickle cell anemia. Slate says while leukemia is still uncured, gene editing has extended the life of patients, especially children.  He adds that fortunately, sickle cell anemia has been cured due to advancements in genetic research. 

    Eastern Niagara Hospital was founded in 1908 and will close June 17. This fall, Lockport residents will have access to a new, larger medical campus currently under construction nearby.    

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