Nursing home in Wleń
It was at the end of the 19th century when the archpriest Augustyn Nickisch, a parson from Wleń (formerly Lähn), decided to ask Mother Melchiora Klammt for nuns to join his community. They were to take care of the ambulatory treatment of patients and conduct a school. The parson’s idea was supported by a resident of Wleń, Carl Steinert (an owner of Deutsches Haus), who also promised to give a donation for nuns’ board.
The parson’s request was agreed to and on 13th November 1888 Mother Benedykta, Achatia Kottwitz and Alexia Persich arrived at Wleń. The nuns took up a residence in a tenement house at Goldbergerstrasse 58 (at present Kościuszki Street) and started their work with the patients and children. In 1892 an idea of opening a Hydropathic Institute appeared. Then the nuns left the tenement house and purchased a new building. This building, located near the river, after a small renovation was made available to the public already in the spring of 1893. The Hydropathic Institute of Hedwig of Silesia begun operating there. It made use of a very popular treatment which used a method developed by a priest, Sebastian Kneipp. Doctor Carl Schulz, who was collaborating for many years with priest Kneipp, was made the Chief Physician. The whole personnel employed in the Institute was trained in Bad Wörishofen, in a facility where priest Kneipp worked on hydrotherapy. Apart from the highly qualified personnel, it was the spring water that was to bring success to the Institute. The water which was used for the treatment, was delivered under high pressure through pipes from the nearby springs.
On 27th July 1895 the Reverend Mother sent a letter to Archbishop Georg von Kopp in which she informed that after the Institute had been opened, the treatment conducted according to priest Kneipp’s method was extended, so that it became available for 50 patients, including 4 clergymen. The Reverend Mother asked very humbly and specified conditions for settling more nuns in Wleń. She also asked for a permission to open a chapel in the nursing home building.
A good and professional care contributed to a constantly growing popularity of the Institute and hydrotherapy in general. Attendance in the nursing home was so large that the patients who were receiving the treatment had to rent rooms in the town. After some time the bathing department also had to be expanded. The expansion took place between 1909 and 1910. It was then that Badenhaus – a Bathing Home (nowadays the so-called baths) – was opened. The building architectonically matched the medical and technological achievements of the time.
With the incoming 700th anniversary of grating city laws to Wleń, an idea arise to celebrate that event by building a chapel. On the 17th of August 1913, archbishop Kopp authorized a plan of building the Grotto of Mother of God. The building was funded by earl Ian Hochberg from Książ. The grotto was made of volcano tuff from Etna, which was imported by the earl to build the palm house in Lubiechów. The ceremony of unveiling and consecrating the Grotto of Mother of God took place on Sunday, 12th of July 1914, during the celebration of the 700-years of city Wleń.
The developing Sanatorium was serving the entire community, that is why the local authorities supported its extension: in 1928-1929 the Sanatorium was reconstructed. The central part was extended by adding extra wings, which consisted of not only common rooms, but also a big chapel and 20 rooms with tap water, balconies and loggias. In 1930, the entire Sanatorium consisted of 70 rooms which could fit 85 beds. The entire compound had central heating and was equipped with electricity. The common rooms – daily room, library and the billiard room was adjoined to the resting room (the present physiotherapy room).
The result of the completed reconstruction is the current architectural appearance of the compound. The building bordered with a 300 acres park with exquisite gardens and cozy resting areas like summerhouses or park pavilions. There was also a cricket ground.
In 1931, the Sisters were visited by the archbishop, Metropolitan of Wroclaw, Cardinal Adolf Bertram.
In 1935, 18 Sisters render service in the sanatorium dedicated to Saint Hedwig. In 1935, the nursing covered about 602 patients, clinic treatment related to 39 patients during 183 days of medical care and 15 vigils. 1388 food portion were distributed among poor, and children got 1482 meals.
Most of the treating methods adapted in the sanatorium were the initiative of priest Sebastian Kneipp, whose supporter was the medical doctor Carl Schulz.
In the built “baths” such methods like cold and warm compressions, irrigation, baths and partial - carbonic acid, oxygen, spruce and with the addition of milk and electro - baths were used.
Steam, incandescent lamps, wrapping girdling , vibratory and manual massages were also used. The treatment was supported by a diet, herbal medicine, inhalation and activities in fresh air. The patients had received guides with descriptions of walking paths, which encouraged the guests to more intensive, physical activity.
Among the correspondence from the first years of Wleń’s Medical Department activity, the content of some letters is worth mentioning:
- Illegible date – Letter of Sister Bernarda to Superior Sister Leonida about paying the salary to the glazier and carpenter. The painter is supposed to paint the doors, till they dry up.
- Wrocław – 18.05.1896. The acknowledgement of receipt for delivering liturgical vessel: epergne, holy oil utilities, ciborium. The letter was addressed by vice dean Schmolke.
- Wrocław – October 1899. Permission for hanging The Way of the Cross by the Redemptorists in the Chapel of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth. The letter issued by Archbishop Georg von Kopp to parish priest in Wleń.
- Wroclaw - 1907 – Letter of Father Augustine. The words of gratitude for the treatment. Festive wishes. Plea for prayers. Father presented the gathering with a chalice.
- Wrocław – 19.07.1907 – The letter about quartering the Curator in the Sisters house. Remuneration of 800 marks annually.
- Wrocław, 14.11.1907. The letter granting a total indulgence on St. Elizabeth Day. General Mother of Melchior Klammt.
- Wrocław – 11.07.1912. A letter to the Curator of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth in Wleń. Signed by Cardinal Georg von Kopp.
Sanatorium in the Polish People’s Republic
Between 1939 and 1945, the sanatorium was turned into a military hospital. The aviators of Luftwaffe were the most frequent patients there. In 1945, the hospital was evacuated to the west and the place was taken over by the Soviet Union’s army. When nuns regained the hospital from the Russians, they faced new challenges. The country of Poland started to emerge here. New settlers came to Wleń. Expulsions of Germans started. (...)
After the war, the sanatorium in Wleń was an attractive touristic destination for railway men. They used to come to Wleń in big groups, directed by Polish National Railways. In most cases, the visits were caused by the necessity of rehabilitations of accident victims or by “the need for changing the climate.” The first record of gratitude is dated to 29th June of 1949 from the group of the management of Polish National Railways in Wrocław (PNR). Their records were received in further years.
The postwar sanatorium was teeming with cultural life. In August 1949, the choir of Wacław Gieburowski performed one of the first significant concerts in the sanatorium of Sisters of St. Elizabeth.
On the 1st May of 1951, because of the railway men’s contentment, the management of Polish Railways Office (DOKP) signed, in the management office of Polish Railways in Wrocław, a long-term cooperation agreement. It was concluded by and between:
- The congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth represented by priest PHD Jan Terlaga and their mother superior, nun Walentyna Rudzik
- The Polish National Railways operating by the district management of Polish National Railways in Wrocław, represented by the manager of DOKP, Stefan Juszczacki.
Upon this Agreement, the congregation gave to Polish National Railways’ disposal all 150 vacancies in the Sanatorium. The management remained in the congregation’s hands. It was arranged that the Polish National Railways would pay for employee’s stay, according to rates prevailing in Poland. The types of suggested therapies were also set. The rules of medical institution of St. Hedwig in Wleń were approved by the health department of DOKP in Wrocław. The agreement regulated: the calorific value norms and the terms of employing an in-house doctor, a massage therapist and a manager of the common room who should be recommended by DOKP in Wrocław. The medical supervision was taken over by the Health Service of Polish National Railways.
The inventory documents from the end of 1951 indicate that there were 47 employees in the sanatorium in Wleń then, including:
- lay staff which consisted of 29 people: the head of hospital department of medical institution of St. Hedwig in Wleń - doctor Witold Dyszlewski, a doctor, an accountant, two office assistants, five chef assistants, a bathroom help, nine ward attendants, a washhouse help, a craftsman, three stokers, three workmen and a coachman.
- monastic staff which consisted of 18 people: the head of the sanatorium - the mother superior Walentyna Rudzik, the chaplain Wincent Andrysewicz, nine nurses, a store man, an office help, three cooks, a person responsible for shopping and a massage therapist.
As far as salaries, the heads of hospital department earned 1220 PLN, the managers 882 PLN, a coachman 613 PLN, massage therapists from 469 to 665 PLN, nurses 469 PLN and the chaplain earned 300 PLN.
Problems of the Sisters started at the beginning of 1952. At that time, on February 2nd 1952, the Minister of Health issued a decree on the basis of which retroactively - on 1st January 1952, Medical Institute in Wleń was qualified to public institutions of health.
Suddenly, month and a half later, on March 19th 1952, Commission including 30 people from Warsaw came and in the presence of General Inspector, Mother Jolanta Przybył, decided on the need to nationalize the Institute. The State Treasury took over the Institute owned by the Congregation. Together with the Institute, the State took over free of charge movable assets used for the needs of the Institute and immovable assets acquired in free use. At the same time, the State Treasury transferred the Institute in the supervision and the management of the State Enterprise "Polish State Railways".
On the basis of this Resolution, an acceptance protocol was drawn up on 28 - 29th March 1952. The acquired assets were:
- Saint Hedwig Treatment Institute, Wleń, Jaśkiewicz Street 1, with an area of 4.2682 ha, including:
- A two-storey, two-wing main building.
- A two-family dwelling house.
- A stone shed.
- A stone barn.
- A vegetable garden and park.
- Livestock - a horse, 2 cows, 21 pigs.
The entire takeover record consists of several pages and contains detailed extract of the acquired assets - shoes, plates, drugs ....
Unfortunately, District Railway Directory took over not only the assets mentioned in the Act of belonging to the Institute, but also the property of the Sisters with the farm and inventory, although the land registration clearly separated this property. Not agreeing with this, on 30th May 1952, the Congregation requests the Council of Ministers to appoint a new Commission, which would make a fair inventory of property. In the years 1952 - 1965, the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth prompted at all levels of the offices and the courts on the fair settlement of property issues. A total of 45 letters were issued - without success!
After taking Sanatorium in Wleń, the Regional Directorate of Polish State Railways in Wroclaw by letter dated on 31st May 1952, in connection with the termination of the employment relationship with the Sisters, admitted all employed sisters a three-month severance pay, but the management quickly changed the opinion, refusing to pay the due salaries. As a result of these actions, 18 Sisters were without work and without rightful severance. As a result, each of the Sisters separately appealed to Polish State Railways District Directorate. The Congregation of Sisters of St. Elizabeth in Wroclaw also appeared on behalf of the abused Sisters, sending on 1st July 1953, a letter to the Office for Religious Affairs. All these activities have proved to be ineffective!
According to the March Resolution No. 166 §4, the costs associated with the acquisition and maintenance of the seized Institute were to be covered from the state budget, but this time the Ministry withdrew from this idea and on 10th September 1952, Resolution No. 765 stating that the costs related to the acquisition and the maintenance of Treatment Institute in Wleń will be covered by current assets of Polish State Railways.
By 3rd August 1954, apart from Mother Superior, Mother Teresa Nowicka, six nuns still stayed in the Institute in Wleń.
Sanatorium under the management of the Polish State Railways.
One of the first changes after the acquisition of the Institute was the removal of the chapel and the arrangement of an auditorium with a stage. In the years 1954 - 1955, Sanatorium managed by the Director Olechowski, was renamed into Polish State Railways' Children Health Institute. The complete overhaul was carried out in the years 1955 - 1956, and in November 1956, the institute of natural medicine for adults was launched under the name "Railway's Sanatorium in Wleń."
On August 1st 1957, on behalf of the Directorate General of Railway Health Service in Warsaw, General Director PhD Marian Pertkiewicz appoints PhD Tadeusz Klekowski to a position of the Director of the Railway Sanatorium in Wleń.
Since the beginning Tadeusz Klekowski became known as an outstanding administrator, constantly improving the Institute with the aim of rehabilitation profile, seeing this as a great opportunity for Wleń. In order to achieve the appropriate level of treatment services and raise the prestige of rehabilitation department, Klekowski establishes contacts with numerous institutions in Poland, among others, Rheumatologic Institute in Sopot, Institute of Rheumatology in Warsaw, Institute of Rehabilitation in Poznań and Capital Rehabilitation Centre in Konstancin.
Klekowski also seeks to acquire new objects which after the reconstruction in a very short period of time are successively put into service. These are:
- A Small Hospital by Kościuszko Street in Wleń, as the internal ward.
- Since 1964, Forest Manor with nursery, as the children's ward.
- Also, since 1964, Palace complex in Lenno, as the geriatric ward.
The four buildings included 6 specialized wards for 360 patients and recruited more than 270 employees.
In 1958, in Sanatorium therapeutic gymnastics began to be used and the Institute changes its profile from balneological to rehabilitation. At the peak of its development 6 doctors, 6 rehabilitation specialists, a radiologist, a pharmacist, a dentist, an analyst technician, an occupational therapist, more than 10 technicians of physiotherapy, 2 massage therapists, an animator, more than 30 nurses, over 30 ward nurses, nearly 60 people in the kitchen, a repair brigade with more than 20 people, additionally stokers and administration are employed in the department.
Since the early 60s Sanatorium hires an orthopedic and rehabilitation consultant in one person. The rheumatologic ward is visited by Professor Eleonora Reichner and Professor Jerzy Zajfried. Professor Falkiewicz, as a scientific consultant, became interested in the first geriatric ward in Poland.
When the institution was directed by dr. Tadeusz Klekowski, the Rail Sanatorium in Wleń experienced a real development. The center administered a sizeable estate in Wleń which included: the main Sanatorium building with a square at Jaśkiewicza Street, garages and a feedlot along Świerczewskiego Street, as well as a park, a spring and an outbuilding opposite the main building, a children division Leśny Dwór with the school at Jaśkiewicza Street, a hospital with a square at Kościuszki Street, workshops and a mortuary at Politajewa Street, a garden facility at Dworcowa Street, a residential building for workers at Pocztowa Street and a palace complex with a garden, an orchard and outbuildings.
When dr. Klekowski retired on May 31st 1971, Jaworski, Kasprzyk, Szczurek and Malinowska were next directors of the Sanatorium.
Despite the passage of years, the memory about director Klekowski was very vibrant. Most of the people who worked with him talk about him with the greatest respect and perceive him as a brilliant director, a human who aimed to develop the Sanatorium with passion. In recognition of his merits on 16th December 1980 employees of Sanatorium made a decision on giving the Institution a name of dr. Tadeusz Klekowski.
In the morning on 6th September 1983, the Leśny Dwór division was burning. Iza, who as a child with spine afflictions was a patient of this division, writes: “I just have come back to Sanatorium after a furlough for another two rehabilitation stays. It was about 6 o’clock and if it wasn’t for Mr. Fireman, who went to fire the stove in the school building next to the Sanatorium, I don’t know how it would have finished. He noticed the fire on the roof of Leśny Dwór, if it wasn’t for him someone definitely would have been suffering corporally not only from loss of the clothes which went up in the smoke. He deserves a warmest thanks…”
Luckily, no one died in the fire but the building was completely destroyed and was no longer suitable for further usage. The children division was temporally located in main building - but not for a long time – the division was soon closed. The management made a decision about thorough rebuilding of Leśny Dwór. Its lower, wooden part (the so-called: outhouse) was demolished. A new project predicted changing place into one that will fulfill all the standards and needs of the modern Children Sanatorium. The alteration of the building was made by a renovation and construction crew from PGR (State Agricultural Farm) in Wleń. The new building, in a raw state, was ready at the beginning of the 90s. However, due to geopolitical changes the object was never completed.
In 1987 a geriatrics division, which was located in Lenno Palace, ceases to work. It was mainly because of high cost of keeping the whole, large building. Lenno Palace was passed to Łódź with the intention of arranging it for recreational purposes and stays of the employees.
The nursing home in the III RP
After the political changes which occurred in Poland after 1989, the Polish State returned all the property taken over during the years of PRL to its lawful owners. So it happened on 28th February 1992 when the Property Commission, operating upon the Act of 17th May 1989 about the approach of the State towards the Catholic church in RP, upon the request of the Congregation of Sisters of Saint Elisabeth from the province of Wrocław, reached an agreement between the Congregation and the management of Polish Railways in Wrocław. Under this agreement, the Congregation regained the premises located in Wleń at Jaśkiewicza Street (Jan Kazimierz Street at present) with the area of 3,8187ha. At the same time, the Sanatory of Rehabiliation of Organs of Locomotion administered by the management of Polish Railways in Wrocław was to make use of those premises until 31st December 1997 at the latest.
Having recovered the property, the nuns begun applying for the registration of a new centre. On 31st December 1998 the voivode of Jeleniogórskie Voivodeship of the time made a decision about the creation of a Register Book of the non-public health care provider “Rehabilitative and Care Institution” of the Congregation of Sisters of Saint Elisabeth in Wleń. Their main specialties are rehabilitation of the organs of locomotion, as well as care and medical activities.
On 11th January 1999 the Congregation took over the Institution in Wleń and already on 1st February of the same year 7 nuns arrived at Wleń to begin running the centre anew, in the spirit of the Founding Sisters.