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HISTORICAL POSTCARDS OF SPRINGFIELD,
States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners (view 2 of 2)
is a color photocopy of a postcard showing the main building of
the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners. A huge flagpole
in the center of a green area is shown flying the American flag.
The Medical Center was built at 1900 West Sunshine Street, the corner
of Wabash and Sunshine. During the Great Depression, the people
of Springfield gave 620 acres of land to the federal government
to build the hospital. Congress acted to create the Medical Center
in 1930. The first buildings were completed in 1933. The unoccupied
land was originally used by the prisoners for farming. In 1966 this
farming was abandoned. In 1977 the federal government returned some
of the original 620 acres to Springfield.
The hospital was created to care for the physical and mental disorders
of federal prisoners in prisons all over the country. There are
over 90 of these prisons now. Patients range from minimum-security
to maximum-security inmates. Patients are transported from their
home institution to the Medical Center by automobiles, institutional
buses and airplanes. Every two weeks a 94-passenger airplane starts
at the west coast and jumps all the way to the east coast making
many stops to pick up and drop off passengers across the United
States. If a patient has an acute condition he is either brought
to the Medical Center by chartered plane or is treated in a local
hospital. All chronic problems are treated at the Medical Center.
The Medical Center is staffed by over 500 full-time employees. These
include correctional officers and medical personnel such as doctors,
nurses, dentists, psychologists and surgeons. The Medical Center
is one of Springfield's major industries. There are no women federal
prisoners housed at the Medical Center. They are treated by local
hospitals wherever they are inmates.
The first superintendent of the Medical Center was Dr. Marion R.
King. Some other notable superintendents were Pat Keohane, who was
a native of Springfield and ran the prison from 1995 to 1999, and
Pat Ciccone who ran the Medical Center from 1965 to 1978.
The Medical Center had three riots during its existence, in 1941,
1944 and 1959. All three riots were brought under control with tear
gas. The 1959 rioters captured five hostages. It was the only riot
with any casualties. One prisoner was killed as an assault force
rescued the hostages. One hostage was also slightly injured.
Many famous people have spent time in the Medical Center. Among
them are John Gotti, Robert Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz), and
Larry Flynt who apparently liked Springfield so much he considered
buying the Elfindale Manor in which
to live and perhaps start a magazine. The convicted terrorist Omar
Abdel Rahman, also called the "blind sheik," also spent time at
the Medical Center.