I just read that US smallpox vaccinations ended in 1972 when the disease was eradicated. Guess I was one of the last ones to have this scar on my shoulder?
Today we continue in our appreciation for the medical field, who has been streeeeetched to their limits during these past several weeks, and will probably all be suffering from PTSD for the rest of their lives. But back in July of 1970, high-haired Connie Wharton and Jean Davis were keeping it casual and lowkey while lifting newborns out of stork/kitten/kangaroo boxes at Jefferson Davis Hospital, the first publicly-owned Houston hospital to accept low-income patients.
Fun fact Friday: the hospital was largely abandoned in the 80s, thought to be full of ghosts, named a city landmark, and then
destroyed renovated into artist lofts for the rich and crafty. Plus, everyone knows buildings cannot be named after a former president of the Confederate States; we’re too busy erasing history to make everything PC.
This next image shows nurses and patients at Houston’s St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in the Fifth Ward in March of 1959. Nobody likes to be barefoot, donning a hospital gown, but some encouragement, attention, and a fire truck can go a long way toward healing.
Our final Houston-based medical subject is Dr. Katharine Hsu, a pediatric doctor who came to America from China in 1948. She served as Chief Resident Physician in Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital in Shanghai, but when the Japanese invaded the city in l94l, she fled through enemy lines and joined her husband at Chung Cheng Medical College as Head of Pediatrics. Here she takes vitals of a shirtless youngster in July of 1953 at–you guessed it–Jefferson Davis Hospital.
Fun Fact Friday: After tuberculosis took the lives of her brother and sister, she made it her goal to stop the spread. She established a one-room, one-nurse pediatric TB facility which later expanded into the Children’s TB Clinic and Hospital, where she worked from 1953 to 1969.
Per her obituary in 2007, she died at the age of 93.
When the use of the drug Isoniazid proved beneficial in treating TB patients, Katharine envisioned using it as a preventive against the disease. Since her extensive testing and studies proved overwhelmingly successful, the preventive treatment was adopted worldwide…The International Biographical Center of Cambridge named her International Woman of the Year in l996-l997 for her contributions to medicine, research, and education.
Today we salute the men and women in past and present medical fields, doing their best to keep the rest of us alive, with all the skills to treat and diagnose when we are helpless and vulnerable.
Henry L. Hohl Elementary, April 1955: The first Houston-area students await the newly available Salk vaccine.
Needles aren’t fun, but they’re even less fun while wearing formalwear, like this group below.
Just like little Casey Carl Vaughn above, I, too, received an injection of the vaccine as a youngster. I imagine that’s also why you don’t have polio. Unless you do.
Below you’ll see a free clinic offered by the Houston health department in May of 1961. Residents lined up at the Minimax Store, where volunteers doled out 50,000 inoculations in one week. Ain’t nobody got time for paralysis.
Albert Sabin provided a cheaper alternative to Salk’s vaccine, by adding drops of vaccine to sugar cubes. No injection necessary.
This Houston nurse followed suit in 1962, adding drops of vaccine to sugar cubes.
But it was too little, too late for these polio-afflicted children in Philadelphia, shown way back in 1950 at a meeting with the chairman of the city’s March of Dimes organization. (Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries). Sometimes timing is everything.
Unlike the scare tactics of Big Pharma today, encouraging you to take a pill if you’re sad, and another if you’re anxious, and another for every emotion known to man, tuberculosis was a legit concern in March 1928, when Met Life Ins. Company placed this ad below in National Geographic.
How terrifying it must have been, not knowing if it lay dormant in you, and you might pass it on to your babies.
Way back in 1884, Edward Trudeau had opened the first U.S. sanatorium at Saranac Lake, NY, and others soon followed, including this one in Denver. Can you imagine a doctor telling you to go out into the sunshine to receive UV rays?
But progress was on the horizon, and it wasn’t click bait. The Met Life ad continued:
Think about what an exciting time that was. The readers of this announcement will not have to worry about TB. Have you ever worried about TB? Does it cross your mind? PBS.org states that by the dawn of the 19th century, tuberculosis—or consumption—had killed one in seven of all people that had ever lived. Mindboggling.
Of course, it’s still a very real threat to those with HIV, their number one killer, in fact. Forbes stated, “In 2016, 10.4 million people became ill with active TB globally, and there were 1.7 million deaths from the infection. While ill, a person with active TB is likely to infect 10-15 others over a year’s time.” Still frightening, but not the threat that it was back in 1928. And the US did its best to keep the nation informed. The Met Life ad continued:
Fourteen years later, baseball player Larry Doyle would contract TB and enter the Trudeau Sanitorium in Saranac Lake. When they closed their doors in 1954 due to the development of an effective antibiotic treatment, Doyle was the last resident to leave, and Life Magazine captured his exit. He spent the rest of his life in Saranac Lake, and died there twenty years later, at age 87. Thank God for the cure.
Did you know?
- TB is also known as consumption or the white plague.
- There is a dramatic resurgence of tuberculosis due to HIV, with more than 8 million new cases each year worldwide and more than 2 million persons dying from it. (http://www.news-medical.net/health/History-of-Tuberculosis.aspx)
- In the 1800s, tuberculosis was known as “the captain of all men of death.” Does that even make sense?
- Tuberculosis was keen on afflicting authors, including: John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson, Emily Bronte, and Edgar Allen Poe.