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Book highlights former nursing home

Staff writer

A Tulsa woman’s book, “Abandoned Kansas: Health care in the Heartland,” features a former Florence nursing home.

Author Emily Cowan, who previously wrote “Abandoned Topeka: Psychiatric Capital of the World” and “Abandoned Oklahoma,” said the original Florence health care facility, built in 1970, closed in 2002.

Seven years later, the building was purchased by David Weseloh, who renamed it Sunshine Residential Center and marketed it not as a nursing home but as an inexpensive place for people who no longer wanted to deal with the stress of living in their own homes. Sunshine Residential Center was short-lived and closed after a few months, Cowan said.

The property now is owned by Wichita resident Tiffany Johnson, Florence city clerk Dana Gayle said.

The Florence facility is one of three urban hospitals and three smaller rural health care institutions highlighted in the book.

“This book includes full and detailed histories about abandoned or partially abandoned health care facilities across the state, patient and staff accounts, as well as more than 170 exclusive high-quality premium-ink images,” Cowan said.

Cowen said her intention with the book was to highlight and document the history of healthcare facilities in Kansas, shed light on management approaches for health care facilities, and look at disparities between urban and rural health care systems.

“Through photojournalism and firsthand accounts, I hope to spark a preservationist movement among readers to help save our history,” Cowan said.

The $23.99 book can be preordered at https://emilyecowan.square.site/product/abandoned-kansas/5.

Last modified Sept. 14, 2023

 

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