By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Our state is full of collectors of all kinds of different things. And oftentimes those collections tell a story.

Scientific Equipment Liquidators in Big Lake buys medical equipment when hospitals are closing. And they’ve come across things ranging from useful to just plain bizarre.

In this week’s Finding Minnesota, John Lauritsen shows us how their medical collection has turned into a history lesson.

“We have stress tests here, ventilators, patient monitors up front,” said Dave Godar.

When hospitals close their doors for good, these guys perform a surgery of their own. Taking what’s no longer needed and trying to give it new life in another medical facility.

“We do dental, some EMT, some ophthalmology, we do a little bit of everything,” said Dave.

Scientific Equipment Liquidators has helped liquidate hospitals in the Twin Cities and across the country for over 40 years. And their health care clients come from near and far.

“We do a lot overseas also. We have people coming from South America or Africa,” said Dave. “An old ultrasound that’s 15-years-old is obsolete here but that’s the newest technology they have over there.”

But when you’ve been doing this for as long as they have, you don’t sell everything you take.

“This is 10 years of patient records. February 24th, 1923 to ’33. One line is one patient,” said Bob Godar while pointing at hospital records from the former Miller Hospital.

When Bob started this business he never expected to become a “medical equipment curator.” But that’s exactly what happened. With junk comes plenty of gems.

“This is an x-ray machine, a very old one, made by the General Electric X-ray Corporation. It doesn’t even say G-E,” said Bob.

A part of Bob’s store is now dedicated to history. From the practical to the bizarre — medical relics that date back 100 years or more. That includes an Iron Lung which was once used to help polio patients breathe.

“This is pre-1955 and you lived your life in this,” said Bob. “When they invented the new respirator, people didn’t want to get out of it. People that were born to it, you know.”

There are dozens of pieces Bob has every intention of preserving. Including a Quartz Light Therapy machine that one doctor used in the 1920’s.

“In the manual, it says it cures acne, alcoholism, anemia, alkalosis, anthrax, arteriosclerosis,” said Bob.

Some of what he has still has a pulse. The collection is so old it’s even made its way onto tv and the big screen.

“A fellow was shooting some kind of Frankenstein movie and he wanted this old operating light,” said Bob while holding a picture of one of his relics in a movie scene. “We do a lot of business with movie studios.”

As technology advances, Bob wants to make sure that the instruments of the past aren’t forgotten. No matter how peculiar they were.

“I like coming in here every once in a while. I enjoy walking around here and seeing this stuff,” said Bob. “Embrace your past.”

John Lauritsen